Reston man will climb Mount Everest to raise money for children with cancer

A 63-year-old man in Reston, Virginia, plans to climb Mount Everest in order to raise money for children who are battling cancer.

Len Forkas, who operates the nonprofit group Hopecam, said he wants his journey to the top of the world’s tallest mountain to draw attention to his cause.

“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that it’s going to be a tremendous challenge,” Forkas said.

Hopecam uses technology to connect young cancer patients with their friends through a video conferencing application.

Len Forkas (right) and his son, Matt, on Mount Kilimanjaro. Forkas plans to climb Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, to raise money to help children with cancer. (Courtesy Len Forkas)

The group provides each child with a tablet computer equipped with a webcam, and works with the child’s school to establish a regular connection with the child for them to be able to participate in classroom activities and see their friends.

Forkas raised $250,000 for his organization recently, but he wants to get that number even higher, to $1 million.

“The purpose is to fight the loneliness that these kids experience as they go through treatment where they’re so isolated,” Forkas explained. “We all learned what happens when people are isolated for long periods of time as a result of the pandemic, but these kids are isolated because they can’t socialize with their friends, because their immune system can’t afford that.”

Forkas will be away from home on his Mount Everest trip for weeks.

He plans to leave April 10 and fly to Kathmandu, Nepal, where he will meet up with a guide and travel to a town called Lukla.

Forkas will then head to Mount Everest base camp and spend three weeks there preparing for the main climb.

Climbing up to the top of the mountain will take roughly a week.

“I’m scared to death but I’m also excited,” Forkas said. “It’s kind of equal parts both.”

Forkas isn’t new to climbing, as he has scaled tall mountains all over the world.

“I feel pretty prepared,” Forkas said, although he acknowledged that Everest is “a whole ‘nother game when it comes to altitude.”

If the weather cooperates, and Forkas does make it all the way up 29,000 feet to the top, he said he will “thank God and all the people that have supported me.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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