On most days you’ll find Debra Martin working on the clinical floor of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, supporting children and families, like she’s done for 16 years.
But while away from the hospice, you may just have to head to a mountain top to find her.
She began climbing mountains in 2014, when she sought a new challenge beyond the marathons and triathlons she had been running for years.
Most mountain climbing newbies start with a smaller peak, an easier challenge, but when Debra was approached with an opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as a fundraiser with friends, she jumped at the chance.
The climb was marked by blizzards and 120kmh winds.
“I had three asthma attacks because of the cold winds,” Debra explains, “but my friends and team worked hard to keep me calm and focused and we all arrived safely to the top.”
Since then, she has trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, summiting the Throng La pass; and climbed to Annapurna Base Camp, 5 500m and 4 200m respectively.
“Totally backwards!,” she explains. “Usually, you would start with the lowest climb and work your way up! Not me! Go big or go home.”
While Kilimanjaro was her toughest climb, the three-week Annapurna Circuit proved to be her favourite.
“We passed through many villages and terraces of corn and rice,” she recalls, “The people were all so warm, friendly and welcoming. The scenery, being surrounded by snow capped Himalayan mountains was absolutely the most breathtaking sight I have ever seen in my life!”
Debra believes that the same strength and determination that allows her to complete these accomplishments brought her to Canuck Place.
“I was looking for a career that would give my life meaning, and satisfy my need to give of myself to others who need strength and compassion to get through their tough times,” she explains. “I’m mentally and spiritually a strong, focused, and determined person and I think this shows in my adventurous soul, as it gets me through those hard runs and climbs.”
For her, an adventurous heart is about building inner strength.
“Throughout life, even though you may have fears about facing a challenge that is greater than you feel you can get through, you can get through it because the outcome is worth the fear. You build inner strength from getting through something you didn’t think you could.
“I can share that strength here, in my work.”
You can face your own challenges with an adventurous heart at the Canuck Place Adventure Race, and support the work of Debra Martin and the entire clinical team at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.