Man to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise Alzheimer's awareness

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by Joe Flanagan, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on February 17, 2013 at 5:03 PM

NEWPORT NEWS -- John Hightower was the youngest director of the Museum of Modern Art and spent 13 years heading up the Mariners Museum in Newport News before being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Hightower's family had a history of the disease.  "Somebody can say that you have a family history of it but when it's your father it's completely different," said his son Matthew.

Matthew met with Brian Cole Saturday, who is going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next weekend to raise awareness and funding in John Hightower's name. 

Three years ago Cole tried the climb and had to retreat at 15,000 feet due to altitude sickness.

"With altitude sickness you can't prepare for it, you can't prevent it, and you can't slow it down once it hits, a lot like Alzheimer's,"  said Cole.

Brian Cole has been his fitness trainer and says it saddens him to see his friend go downhill.  He compared it to climbing down the mountain three years ago.

"When I go downhill it relieves my problems.  When people with Alzheimer's go downhill unfortunately it just gets worse," said Cole.      

"It's nice to think that my father might help push Brian on his way to the summit and have that same kind of impact on Brian," said Matthew.

Cole leaves Tuesday for the climb. Matthew gave his father's Marine Corp pin to Brian for good luck.

For more on the climb check out their website: www.climbinghighforjohn.com
 

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