Glenn Haerle, a special education teacher at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School will be leading a group of HBW colleagues up Mount Washington in August. But it won’t be a casual walk in the New Hampshire woods: Haerle, who has cerebral palsy, is using the climb to raise money and awareness about the condition.
He’s raised quite a lot of awareness already.
Among the teachers who will be accompanying him, including social studies teacher Peter Foster, sixth grade teacher Christine Donahue, and fifth grade teacher Mark Rossi. Among the kids who are cheering him and the rest of the teachers on, including 20 or so who have been interviewed for a movie that is being made on the climb. Josh Watabe, a member of HBW’s “Dream Team”, designed the logo for the event–dubbed The Cohesion Project 2010–and set up its Facebook page.
Let’s put some of this in perspective. Mount Washington is 6,288 feet tall, making it the highest peak in the Northeast. It can be summer at the bottom of Mount Washington in August and, on the wrong day, something approaching winter at the top. And while Haerle has always been a hiker, he has never climbed the New Hampshire peak.
Haerle was inspired to take up the challenge by a speech that President Barack Obama made on community service. “I have cerebral palsy, but I can do things that other people with cerebral palsy can’t,” he says. “and I wanted to give back to an organization that helps others so much.”
The August 12 climb is going to be documented by filmmaker Doug Bollinger, who has been Haerle’s friend since they attended Montclair State University 20 years ago. “He asked me just to go with him,” Bollinger says, “but the more I dug into it, I thought maybe I’d bring my camera.” And a producer, Kim Surowicz. Bollinger, who will be taking time away from his Lighthouse Italian Ice franchise in Point Pleasant to make the climb, was the writer of the films Waltzing Anna and Mail Order Bride. “It’s turning into something way cooler than we thought it would be,” he says.