Neil McDonald is a firm candidate for JDRF’s ultimate fundraiser, after raising £120,000 through his Climbing for a Cure campaign. Neil has taken part in a series of exhibitions for JDRF, and scaled Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 8,848 metres, this May.
The Aberdeen-based dad started to raise funds for JDRF after his 10-year-old daughter, Darcey (pictured with Neil), was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of three. His wife Linzie has also tirelessly fundraised for the cure, organising the Climbing for a Cure Bond Ball in September 2011, which raised an amazing £80,000 for JDRF.
In preparation for the Everest climb, Neil and his climbing partner, Radek Dusatko, scaled some of the world’s highest mountains. To qualify for the Everest climb they had to climb Aconcagua (the highest mountain in South America), which is 7,000 metres and took nearly three weeks. To qualify for this the pair had climbed Mont Blanc, and at the start of the campaign Neil climbed Ben Nevis to train. The whole process took two and a half years, with Neil training five days a week, every week.
Neil was on Everest itself for two months, in between Everest Base Camp and the higher camps. As well as the extreme physical challenges of altitude sickness and hydration, the expedition was mentally taxing. Neil helped rescue one stranded climber, for which he was nominated for the title of Sunday Mail Great Scot of 2012.
‘The thought of Darcey sustained me. The pain was nothing compared to the difficulties my little girl has had to go through with type 1, living with injections of insulin and pinprick blood testing daily just to keep her alive. I knew that I could simply turn around and go back down but Darcey doesn’t have that choice. She has to deal with her situation every day forever until we get a cure.’
The training and exhibition were completely funded by Neil, which meant that all the money received through sponsorship and donations will go directly to supporting JDRF’s work.
Neil’s sponsor, Fifth Business, have put together a video about Neil’s Climbing for a Cure campaign.