She may not climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but Lori Fry hasn’t given up on her healing journey.
The public relations director for the 100 Mile and District Visually Impaired White Cane Club is looking for a new challenge after an expedition to summit Mount Kilimanjaro and raise funds for blind children was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d be willing to entertain any kind of physical activity that takes me out of my comfort zone,” Fry, 60, said. “I’d honestly love to ride a bike across Canada on a tandem bike with a pilot. I’d love to do something physical that just doesn’t help me personally but also the greater good for my community.”
Fry was tapped in 2019 to join a national team of visually impaired and blind people in Canada to raise funds to summit the Tanzania mountain. Each team member had pledged to raise $10,000 to fund the expedition with additional money going towards Camp Ability, a sports camp for blind children. Fry said they also planned to try calling the media from the summit to raise awareness for the visually impaired community in general.
“It was really all about setting an example, providing inspiration and educating the world about vision loss and life after vision loss,” Fry said. “Helping others understand, regardless of what individual mountains we all have to climb, that we can all overcome adversities and challenges in our life.”
READ MORE: White Cane Club offers support, camaraderie
Fry said it was an honour to be selected for the journey, especially among a group of “high achieving type people,” including a musician and a lawyer. It was also considered personally healing for Fry, who has dealt with stickler syndrome, a genetic condition that has made her retinas slowly detach, her entire life. With only one per cent of her vision left, she had planned to use the climb as a way to work through her emotions about going blind.
“Despite the fact you can prepare yourself as much as possible, you still internally have to process the actual loss of vision. Even though I’m used to it there’s still that final step of the total loss of sight that I still have, the emotional challenge of grieving to process. So this mountain climb was demonstrating ability over disabilities but also a healing journey for me on a personal level.”
Fry has so far raised $7,285 for the cause but said it’s hard to keep training for a mission when the date is still up in the air and several team members have moved on. The money will remain in trust with the club until they decide how to use it. If it isn’t needed to fund a trip, it will likely all be donated to Camp Ability or another good cause.
Meanwhile, the White Cane Club is working toward meeting again in person. Fry said the social/recreational group hasn’t met since last March.
“We’re starting off the year with optimism for change, mainly bringing our group back together in person. That’s our first and foremost goal,” Fry said.
While White Cane Week is coming up in February, Fry said they would likely run their open house in May and June. Even before COVID-19, she said they found weather would often cancel the event in February.
The club also continues to volunteer at the Cedar Crest Thrift Store, its main source of revenue. It’s served as a platform for community outreach and Fry encourages any visually impaired community members not a part of the club to come by on a Sunday to meet them.
“The Cariboo has supported our White Cane Club for 31 years and I don’t believe we could have survived without that support from the community.”