"Like family" has true meaning at Frank Russell Co., Tacoma, Wash.
Many people at Frank Russell were affected personally when consultant Ross Anderson, a popular 18-year veteran, was diagnosed last year with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
So it was only natural, with Mount Rainier visible from every conference room of the Frank Russell headquarters, and Chairman George Russell and many other employees being avid mountaineers, that mountaineering formed the basis of a company program to raise money for ALS research in honor of Mr. Anderson, said Debbie Bergh, internal communications manager.
Employees set themselves a goal of a collective 1 million feet of altitude and collected pledges. Weekend hikes to area mountain parks were part of a six-month training program that culminated in a mid-July ascent of the 14,410-foot mountain by 13 employees, led by Warren Thompson, Russell's director of government relations, a close friend of Mr. Anderson and an experienced mountaineer. Employees eagerly climbed the lower levels of Rainier, as well as many other peaks.
"Every foot ascended helped the effort," Ms. Bergh said.
More than 50 Russell employees and their families accompanied the expedition team to the lower levels of the mountain on the morning of July 16. Base camp was set at 10,000 feet. Climbing the snow fields of the glacier is safest at night, so the 13 climbers started the ascent in the middle of the night on July 17; nine reached the summit July 18, where they planted a flag to honor Mr. Anderson. Three team members were affected by altitude sickness.
The successful climbers were Pam Greenlee, Ron Greenlee, Kari Seabrands, Dan Seabrands, Phill Rogerson, Mike Blumlein, Mike Lufkin, Jolanta Wysocka and Angus Dugan.
In all, Russell employees climbed 1.56 million feet. The company will match the as-yet unknown dollar amount of the more than 5,000 pledges they collected to benefit ALS research.