There’s something about the sport of climbing that allows us to show what we’re really made of. Are we prepared to face the challenges the sport—and life— presents us head-on, or do we give up and put down our agency, our striving for life? Ian Vallejo was an example of taking life on full steam, and we’re excited to help honor him alongside the Make-A-Wish Foundation – but we need your help.
Ian spent the last three years of his life battling osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that forced him to face intense radiation and chemotherapy, as well as the loss of his right leg to amputation, before he passed away in July 2018. But Ian was a climber, and kept climbing throughout his cancer, starting an adaptive climbing group at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago. And he always wanted to climb in the French Alps. Even facing a debilitating cancer diagnosis. That’s where the Make-a-Wish Foundation came in.
They made his wish a reality, helping Ian to live his life on the edge—his personal mantra— and choose life, even when his illness stared back at him. Many of us knew Ian, and we’ll never forget the lessons he taught us about strength and perseverance.
This Saturday, May 18th, the Illinois chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation will be hosting their annual Wish Ball. At the ball, Ian’s mother will be sharing her family’s story, to try to raise funds and awareness of the possibilities life offers even those suffering from debilitating diseases.
That’s where the climbing community comes in. We’re putting out a call to climbers and to members of the Make-A-Wish community to hear Ian’s story and to dedicate an upcoming climb (either indoors or outdoors) in his memory. We’re asking FA members to post a picture or video on social using #lifeontheedge and to tag @wishillinois with a short message saying something like, “This climb is for Ian”, or “I’ll climb until I can’t”, or “After hearing Ian’s story, I dedicate this climb to him”.
Let’s remind the whole Make-A-Wish community what being a climber is all about—living life to the fullest in honor of our lost friends and loved ones, the people who showed personal strength and taught us lessons our community holds dear.