Blog post


Climbing Kickoff | Climb for Courage Boston Spring 2024

By Maxwell Svec, One Summit, Director of Programs

By Maxwell Svec, One Summit, Director of Programs

On April 6th, we kicked off our 2024 climbing programs in Boston with our 24th Climb for Courage (CFC). Our first climb of the year was full of excitement, laughter, and triumphs big and small. It was a terrific event that set the bar high for the climbs yet to come. This first climb of the year was particularly special because it commenced One Summit's 10th year of hosting CFC programs. Our first Climb for Courage took place in Boston on March 1, 2014, and as we enter our first decade as an organization, we were pleased to be back in Boston once again, where we welcomed 14 patients and siblings, 18 Navy SEAL mentors, and 8 Team Leaders and volunteers who came together to make this kickoff climb a truly wonderful one. We welcomed patients and families from Hasbro Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber's Jimmy Fund Clinic, and Boston Children's Hospital. Our Navy SEAL mentors joined us from across New England and beyond.

As usual, the anticipation and excitement grew in the gym as the families began to arrive. As our mentors quietly awaited their mentees upstairs, each Little Warrior received their "Never Give Up"t-shirt and eagerly awaited their moment to lay their eyes on real Navy SEALs. Our founder, Adam La Reau, greeted the families as the event got underway, leading the kids upstairs to walk through the gauntlet, a welcoming high-five entrance tunnel, flanked by their parents and their new mentors, as loud whoops and cheers echoed off the high gym walls.

Once everyone had come through the gauntlet and settled on the floor mats, Adam led the matching ceremony, ensuring each child was ceremoniously paired with the mentor they would spend the day with. Soon afterward, as the parents headed back downstairs, the Team Leaders began guiding each group in some icebreakers and team name creation. This time our team names were the Rock and Roll, Team Cookie Monsters, the Black Hawks, and the Courageous Kids—fine names indeed! With names chosen and the initial conversations had, before long, every Little Warrior began spreading out in the gym, putting on their camo helmets and hats and carefully plotting which climbing route they would attempt with their mentor first.

Soon, there was laughter and cheering, quite literally, up to the rafters. There was joyful climbing, contemplative route planning, happy conversations, creative jewelry making with our friends from Kendra Scott, drawing and artwork happening in quiet corners, and an ever-present feeling of pride and accomplishment from the kids. At this Climb for Courage during their goal-setting activity with their mentors, many Little Warriors said they simply aspired to get to the top of the wall. Others had the goal to get "past [their] fear of heights," or to "climb as many walls as possible," or just to "have a good day climbing." One mentee's goal was to "get to the top of 3 walls. Then she increased her goal to 5! Then she increased her goal to 7." In the end, she and her mentor reached the top of 8! Being resilient, adaptable, and determined is what it's all about. One Little Warrior's favorite moment of the day was when he had"resilience to keep going and never quit." Another's was purely just "hanging out with the guys!" Sometimes, the best goals at Climb for Courage are merely to be present and to soak up the sights and sounds of the day as it unfolds around us.

As the program began to wind down, the parents returned to the gym after a few hours of rest to find their children still climbing, repelling, and creating lasting memories with their mentors. As One Summit staff, it's always one of our favorite moments of the day when we see the looks of happiness and pride on the faces of the parents and guardians when they return to the gym. They are often surprised that their shy sons and daughters have opened up, their child apprehensive about heights is scaling tall walls, and their once nervous kids feel comfortable and incredibly accomplished! 

As the parents funneled back in and witnessed the last climbs of the day, we got ready for the final pinning ceremony. Each Little Warrior received from their mentor their very own trident pin, a mighty and meaningful symbol for all Navy SEALs. Each of the 14 mentees were called one by one to receive their pin as their mentor shared with the crowd their mentees' triumphs and accomplishments during the day. 

Before each Climb for Courage program, we ask the Little Warriors to tell us what they think a Navy SEAL is. In answer to that question, here are some of the responses we got from this program's participants: 

"A Navy SEAL is a part of the military with specialized training and helps our country."

" [Someone] in the Navy but the best of the best."

"A cool bada$$ bounty hunter!”

"Brave…they do the hardest missions and can live near the beach."

Something tells us that after this incredible April 2024 Climb for Courage in Boston, these resilient and courageous Little Warriors learned valuable lessons about courage, resilience, and overcoming adversity from these Navy SEALs. They now have an even greater understanding of who these elite men are. In speaking with the Navy SEAL mentors after the event, it is clear that they, too, have a deeper understanding of what it means to be courageous and resilient in the face of unthinkable obstacles; all learned something from some of the youngest Americans that they vowed to protect as SEALs.

The feedback from families, mentors, and volunteers immediately following the climb illustrates our mission's impact. The testimonials below fortify our commitment to improving outcomes for our resilient Little Warriors with year-round support and our dedication to growing our presence in the greater Boston community.


Their confidence was through the roof, and they basically floated out of the venue.Both girls proclaimed it was a BEST DAY EVER! [They] feel so lucky that they got to hang out with a NAVY SEAL!


[Climb for Courage] takes you out of your comfort zone and shows you the challenges these children face and overcome. [It] puts your own challenges and life into perspective.

Navy SEAL Mentor

[I was] nervous going in but accomplished more than I thought I would.

Little Warrior

The kids were great, but [what] was most memorable [for me was] seeing the reaction of the parents and their joy.

Navy SEAL Mentor

[My son's favorite moment was] discovering his resilience to reach the top. His mentor is his new favorite person!


The amount you learn from these kids and seeing how resilient they are is hard to put into words. Being able to help these kids smile and be kids for a day is one of the best feelings.

- Navy SEAL Mentor

I want to stay here all day and climb!

Little Warrior

A truly humbling experience. It's extremely rewarding, and I got so much out of it. Meeting and hanging out with my mentee was such a wonderful experience.

Navy SEAL Mentor

[I felt] nervous before. After, like I could do 100 more [climbs]!" 

Little Warrior

The day following Climb for Courage, we returned to the climbing gym to host Climb Higher, our alum program. We welcomed back 12 Little Warriors from past CFC programs in the Boston area and seven mentors. The group spent a fun morning climbing again, making new friends, and sharing laughs and stories over snacks! This program always reminds us of the opportunity for reconnection that theClimb Higher program provides to our One Summit community.

Our Climb for Courage and Climb Higher programs would not be possible without our generous sponsors and partners. These Boston programs, in particular, came to fruition with financial assistance from the incredible Cummings Foundation and a grant from DCU for Kids. We are most grateful for their partnership and steadfast support of our Boston programs.

Climb for Courage is only possible when there is a climbing gym for it to take place in. Again this year we send our deepest gratitude and appreciation to Hall, Bryan, and the entire Central Rock Gym Watertown staff for their continued support of our organization and their collaborative efforts that allow our climbing programs to thrive in the Boston area. The team at CRG is incredibly kind, flexible, accommodating of our needs, and incredibly giving of their time and space. We can't thank them enough for everything they do for our One Summit community.

Again, in 2024, Julia Sora Wykoff, the Founder of Zeal Cares, has committed to donating her hydrating lip balms to all our Little Warriors, mentors, and volunteers! Julia's generosity to One Summit is now in its third year, and we continue to be so grateful for our partnership with her. Thanks for all you do for pediatric cancer patients and their families, Julia!

Our friends at Kendra Scott provided another wonderful experience with their Kendra Cares Color Bar, where our participants designed custom jewelry creations for themselves, their loved ones, and each other. The Kendra Scott team always brings so much joy, kindness, and fun to our Climb for Courage programs, and their activity station allows for a great break in the climbing action for rest, connection, and creativity between our mentors and Little Warriors. We're sending many thanks to Elizabeth, Joy, and the rest of the team at our Boston area Kendra Scott locations!

We would also like to thank the Himmel Group and Grill 23 & Bar for taking incredible care of our One Summit community yet again. Your generosity since the inception of our organization is nothing short of amazing and we can't thank you and your staff enough for always taking such great care of our mentors and staff. We also want to send our gratitude to Chick-fil-A in Framingham for their delicious and oh-so-popular boxed lunch contribution again this year. Many thanks to Virginia for her always-on-time-with-a-smile delivery!

We also send a huge thank you to Nick Heath, a member of our Boston area Young Professionals Board, for once again being a photographer extraordinaire. Nick, thank you for your keen eye behind the lens and for lending your time and skills to capturing so many special and incredible moments at Climb for Courage. We are very grateful for you.

Last but certainly not least, we send our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to our hospital and nonprofit partners in the greater Boston area. For this specific CFC program, we would like to thank our friends at Dana-Farber's The Jimmy Fund Clinic, Hasbro Children's Hospital and The Tomorrow Fund, Lucy's Love Bus, and Boston Children's Hospital. We would be unable to do what we do without our partnership with hospital staff members and nonprofit colleagues who ensure our flyers and program information make it to families. We appreciate all you do every single day for patients and their families. 

Until next time, Boston—we'll be back very soon!

Are you interested in participating in an upcoming Climb for Courage? Please apply on our website or email for more information!