From the Ascent Blog

Doug Spencer and Lisa Heiberg: Aiming for the highest peaks

In October 2014, Tsawwassen residents Doug Spencer and his wife Lisa Heiberg held a small golf tournament with family and friends to raise funds in honour of Doug’s father Gord Spencer, who had recently passed away following a grueling battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Lisa did some research online to find out where they could donate the money to, and came across the Ascent for Alzheimer’s website. “I’d heard about the Ascent in the media. I saw a link to apply to the 2015 team and told Doug about it,” she says. “It was more like Lisa telling me we were going,” Doug says with a chuckle.

“I didn’t know how many people were affected by Alzheimer’s until my dad got it,” says Doug. His father, an avid golfer, was a long-standing member of the Vancouver Police Department who counted many friends among his colleagues. This year, as part of fundraising for their Ascent, Doug and Lisa held a golf tournament with a banquet and silent auction, which raised over $7,000.

Lisa says, “Fundraising makes you realize all the little networks you’re connected to.” She adds, “We have a blended family of six kids, with four adult children and two 11-year-olds.” The golf tournament was promoted an through unexpected avenue: their youngest children’s elementary school principal wrote a story about the golf tournament and posted it on the school website. Lisa and Doug’s sons and their partners also ran “Beer and Burger” pub nights in Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

Both athletic, Lisa and Doug work out regularly at the gym and are devoted hikers, plus Doug is a golfer himself. When they went hiking at Lynn Peak with some Ascent team members in February, they met Sandy Riley, a participant of the 1999 Ascent. Doug says, “It’s quite gruelling coming down and we hadn’t taken poles. Sandy lent me hers to try it out.” Lisa and Doug learned of the importance of poles, especially when coming down the mountain to relieve pressure on the knees. “She showed me how to use them,” he adds.

Lisa says, “It’s good for our kids to see us do something that is outside of our own wants and needs…to see there’s an important reason for it.” Doug agrees and says, “It’s good to set goals that you might see as unattainable, which is pretty symbolic of life. That’s how things get achieved.” Lisa adds, “I think people stay in their comfort zones. It’s important to push yourself, do something scary, take on a huge endeavour.”

Lisa and Doug understand that hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro is as challenging mentally as it is physically. Lisa says, “I think it will be quite a transformative experience to make it to the top. Not everybody does.” Doug adds, “We’ve hiked all around the Lower Mainland, but making it to the top of Africa, the view. That will be a game-changer.”

To contribute toward Lisa and Doug’s Ascent for Alzheimer’s fundraising goal, you can make a donation online. Thank you for your support.

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