EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: ‘Ain’t no mountain high enough’

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Submitted: Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:31am
Updated: Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:21pm

CAROLINA BEACH STATE PARK, NC (WWAY) — Depending on who you ask, about 30 thousand people attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa every year. 20 people from around the world, all Type 1 diabetics, will do just that in June.

Only one American is in the group.
She’s from Wilmington and she’s our Extraordinary Person of the Week.

Her backpack is a workout in itself. But the actual workout? Thea Nunez says “It’s hard in this area because there are no mountains. We’re at sea level, the highest part is 55 feet”. It’s a challenge when the highest place you can go is roughly 19,000 feet lower than where you are go-ing.

“I’m training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. It’s one of the tallest in the world, the tallest in Africa,” says Nunez. Thea Nunez is one of 20 Type 1 diabetics headed for the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The top? 19,341 feet to be exact. The journey from the bottom? One step at a time.

“We’re going to be constantly checking blood sugar every one to two hours and adjust insulin rates to that,” says Nunez. “A lot of the symptoms of altitude sickness mimic hypoglycemia, when blood sugar drops, so we have to be careful about that as well.”

It will take endurance for thea and the other Type 1 diabetics to scale the mountain. Experts say even the healthiest fail to reach the top about 30% of the time…mostly because of altitude sickness. But, that means 70% make it.

“I’ve climbed the Rockies, parts of the Smokey Mountains, that’s about the extent of what I’ve done, so this is pretty big,” says Nunez. Just in case, doctors and nurses from around the world are climbing Mt. Kili at this groups side.

Also climbing, Thea’s fundraising for the non-profit JDRF. “The goal is 5895 dollars because that’s the number of meters to the top,” she says.

The top. It’s called the “Roof of Africa”.

Thea’s 10 day journey to it….
…to fulfill a dream.
…to raise money for type one diabetes research.
…to show other Type 1 diabetics that anything is possible?

Well…..it would be impossible to say she is anything short of….Extraordinary.

You can read more about Thea’s June 14th journey and donate to her mission by logging on to her fundraising site…


….80% of the money she raises will be donated directly to JDRF.

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6 Comments on "EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: ‘Ain’t no mountain high enough’"

2015 years 8 months ago

She is using my friend PAM ‘s….(who was your previous EXTROIDINARY PERSON OF THE WEEK) new product Elovate 15 to help with her blood sugar….please check out Pam and Elovate 15 on the internet and Facebook!!!

Daniel Seamans
2015 years 8 months ago

One of the reasons I love telling these stories is that fact that I get to meet such wonderful people in the community. Hats off to both Thea and Pam!

Wilmington Observer
2015 years 8 months ago

This is a great, locally relevant, story about someone from our community attempting something that only has a 45% success rate.

It would be just as great if someone would “proof” the article and correct the mistakes so that Ms. Nunez could print that article and frame it. Some of the most obvious:

“30 thousand” should PROBABLY be “30,000”
“go-ing” should be “going”
“thea” should be “Thea”
“JDRF” should be “Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation” (subsequent references to the organization can be JDRF)
“5895 dollars” should be $5,895.00

Wilmington Observer

Daniel Seamans
2015 years 8 months ago

The stats for success rate depend on how many days the climbers take to reach the top.
Higher success rates for groups taking at least a week.
In this case, 10 days.
I found that some reports of success rates in that case(can)reach the 75-80+ percentile(Kilimanjaro/Tanzania National Park).
I’m guessing because the body gets more time to adjust to the altitude.

But I think we all can agree that whether the group reaches the top or not…they each deserve mucho kudos.

(also, regarding JDRF….”Why did JDRF change its name? Since its founding in 1970, JDRF was known as the “Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.” But today, 85% of those with T1D are no longer juveniles, they are adults. As a result the word “juvenile” is no longer descriptive of T1D or of the people and families living with the disease. Therefore, we recently dropped the formal name “Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation” from our identity and will now be known simply as JDRF. This better reflects our commitment to working with all ages and all stages of T1D, transforming lives both today and tomorrow.”
-JDRF website.

Thanks again for reading.

Maria Lord
2015 years 8 months ago

Thank you Mr. Seamans for the segment on my daughter Thea’s climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro and her hard work and effort to prove that Diabetes would not stop her from achieving her goals.
Thea has been dealing with Diabetes since the age of 6 and learned very early in life not only to take care of herself but to appreciate life to the fullest.
Remembering all the highs and lows -referring to blood sugars and daily challenges, I feel very proud of my amazing daughter.
I would like to encourage the parents of other diabetic children to keep a close eye on their daily routines and to not get discouraged. It’s a difficult journey but it’s worth the effort.
Thea is my hero..She is an amazing young woman, a wonderful mom and a dedicated nurse.
Keep up the great stories on your community.
Thank you again.

Maria Lord

Daniel Seamans
2015 years 8 months ago

It was easy to see all you speak of, even in just my small time with your daughter.
Thank you for the kind words Maria,