Four years ago, Peachtree City resident Brad Jubin had never even contemplated climbing a mountain.
“I wasn’t exercising or eating right. I weighed 250 pounds and climbing stairs was a challenge,” Jubin said. “I was at a Souly Business retreat, accepted Christ and had a single prayer, to get healthy for the sake of my kids.”
Jubin said he got home from the retreat and fell back into his usual habits. He still wasn’t eating right or exercising. Two weeks later, Rick Davidson, then president of Coldwell Banker Commercial, talked about Climb for Kids, an event that would raise money for Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
“I thought, ‘I can climb a mountain and lose some weight,’” Jubin said. “I told Rick I‘d like to give it a try. He told me I would experience something at the top of the mountain.”
Jubin stated that the process of getting in shape for that first climb was like a light switch being flipped. He also found the fund-raising aspect, something he didn’t think he would enjoy, to be his favorite part.
The Climb for Kids that year raised $40,000 for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, which meant that 40 kids would be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister. Jubin thought back to his prayer, to get healthy for the sake of his kids, and was blown away by how completely his prayers had been answered.
He was now healthy, close to the best shape of his life, and not only did his children benefit but 40 others did as well.
When Davidson left Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty, Jubin knew that he wanted to keep climbing to help out children in need, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it.
“If you pick one child, you say no to 20 others — how do you do that and how do you give money to a family without creating a tax burden for them,” Jubin wondered.
He voiced these questions with Bob Manning, a friend who was on the board of the Hudson Family Foundation, at a lunch and Manning asked if he knew what the foundation did.
Last July, Jubin had lunch with Manning, Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson and his wife, Kim. It was a perfect fit. The Hudson Family Foundation matches fund-raising with kids and families in need. Jubin and the climbers pay their own way to climb the mountain and the Hudsons pay the administrative costs for the Foundation, meaning that all of the money raised from the Hudson Family Foundation Climb for Kids would go straight to a child or family in need.
“It’s rare for a non-profit that someone wants to help out your organization and all you have to do is help them get the word out,” said Kim Hudson. “Brad is so motivated. I’ve never met anyone like him.”
The Hudson Family Foundation awards individual grants to families in need dealing with an injury or illness and the money raised from the climb will go towards individual grants.
The mountain that Jubin and his fellow climbers would climb was Aconcagua in Argentina. At 22,841 feet, it is the tallest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas. The goal was to reach donations of $2 per foot — $45,682. Donations are still being accepted at hudsonfamilyfoundation.com.
“I didn’t even know that things like this existed,” Kim Hudson said. “It was really cool to follow what he was doing and to open people’s eyes to an experience like this.”
The climb started with a 30-mile trek from the highway to base camp and the group had mules help carry the packs to camp. Jubin insisted on carrying the two Louisville Sluggers that Tim Hudson used in a game that would make the cross (baseball bats making the cross are the Hudson Family Foundation’s symbol) at the summit. The group then spent 15 days on the mountain and the journey itself was epic and had its share of struggles.
At 19,500 feet, Jubin’s tentmate showed signs of cerebral edema (the swelling of the brain). They had to climb the man down 1,500 feet to get to a point where a helicopter could evacuate him. This came after being stuck in a storm on the mountain for three days.
There is a small window of how long you can stay at certain elevations and it appeared the group’s window to reach the summit was closed.
As the group endured the storm, Jubin felt crushed that they would not reach their goal and yet later, when their friend was dealing with major health issues, he was elated to leave the mountain and save their friend.
The group saw the climber safely on to the helicopter and made their way back up to their camp at 19,500 feet. The guide told Jubin that they would make their way to the summit the next day.
The climb on summit day was 14 hours long. They left camp at 5:30 a.m. and returned at 7:30 p.m. It was 10 hours of climbing up and four hours of climbing down. After each step, each climber was taking between three to five breaths.
Part of the group making the summit was a doctor who had attempted to summit the mountain three other times and had come up short each time. He wasn’t going to be denied this time, but after a few minutes at the summit he began to show signs of pulmonary edema, which is what stopped him short on the other attempts.
The group had reached the summit though and got their photographic evidence to prove it. Jubin also returned with some frostbite, thrilling some local doctors in Fayette County who had never worked a frostbite case before.
Everyone on the climb is healthy now and the bats are on their way to the Louisville Slugger museum where they will be on display this summer.
“The museum gets 238,000 visitors each year and they will see the bats and the Hudson Family Foundation flags,” Jubin exclaimed, excited at the exposure that the foundation will get.
The mission of the Hudson Family Foundation is to making a positive and long lasting impact in the lives of children who have a genuine need for assistance with regard to a specific physical, emotional or financial circumstance. Jubin is thrilled to be able to do something to help the foundation and is encouraging everyone to visit their website and donate to the Climb for Kids or find ways to help.
“We are very thankful that Brad did this for our benefit. It was a gift we weren’t expecting,” Kim Hudson said. “It’s also nice to meet someone who is that passionate about anything.” She added that their families have become friends through this experience.
Jubin heaped praise on his family — his wife, Kristy, and his children, Christian and Madison — for being supportive during all of his training as well as the time away for the climb itself.
Training for the climb involved 20 hours a week. Days would start with two hours of weights and cardio and some days were followed with three hours at a time on the cart path with a heavy pack of 85 to 100 pounds.
There were also days where he would do three laps up and down Stone Mountain with the heavy pack just to get used to climbing an incline with the weight. Jubin burned 20,000 calories a week while training. On summit day at Aconcagua, he burned 15,000 calories.
“I lost about 14 pounds in 15 days and I was eating until I was full each time,” Jubin said. “You just can’t eat enough to keep up.”
Jubin felt the climb and his connection with the Hudson Family Foundation was truly meant to be. He recalled watching Tim Hudson pitch on television after their meeting and seeing what he felt was a sign.
“The television is showing him pitch and then a grey box behind his head says ‘Keep climbing’,” Jubin recalled. “It was a message from Delta but it felt like a sign.” Never considering himself a baseball fan before, he and his wife are now Braves fans and follow the team and Tim Hudson closely.
Jubin also told a story that the young man who guided the group to the summit told him. The young man’s friend, Fernando, had died on the mountain the year before and now, because of the Fernando Foundation, there was a small cabin with a bottle of oxygen on the mountain to help other climbers. The oxygen tank that helped the climber with cerebral edema was from the Fernando Foundation.
“God is in the big miracle business, but the vast majority of miracles, He lets us deliver them and play roles,” Jubin said. “All we have to do is just pay attention.”
There is no set plan for a climb in 2013 yet, but Jubin feels that if there is one it will either be Elbrus, in Europe, or Mt. McKinley. He also likes the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro at some point in the future with his family.
Jubin, Senior Vice President of Coldwell Banker Commercial Bullard, is happy to be back home and back in the office. The warm weather has undoubtedly has been a welcome surprise as well.
To learn more about the climb and the Hudson Family Foundation, visit hudsonfamilyfoundation.com. The group is launching Club 15 at the start of the Major League Baseball season. People can follow Tim and the Braves this season and make pledges to the Foundation based on certain stats.