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10/28/2016 at 5:23pm

A TX Surprise: For Friends who Climbed Mt. Rainier for Brain Cancer & TBI
Maj. William Denn III, of Albany, N.Y., was recognized by the Tug McGraw Foundation for his philanthropic efforts.
A 2016 Command and General Staff Officer Course graduate set out with two others last spring to climb the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states to raise awareness for brain cancer and traumatic brain injury.Maj. William Denn III, of Albany, N.Y., was recognized by the Tug McGraw Foundation Oct. 22 in Dallas, Texas, for his philanthropic efforts.
Denn and two climbing partners climbed Mount Rainier in Washington in June and raised $15,000 for TBI and brain cancer research. Denn is currently attending the Advanced Military Studies Program at the School of Advanced Military Studies. He graduated from the Command and General Staff Officer Course in June earning the General George C. Marshall Award as the distinguished graduate.Denn said the most important result of the climb was raising awareness of TBI and its devastating effect on soldiers.“The stigma associated with (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI follows someone as they continue in life,” he said. “People need to understand where it comes from and how it affects people.”Planning for the climb began in the fall of 2015, he said. During the planning phase they realized they wanted to make the effort bigger than themselves. TBI was a natural selection for Denn because of its effect on soldiers. His climbing partner lost his father to brain cancer early in life so the two agreed on the TBI and brain cancer focus.

They decided on the McGraw Foundation because of its work in the area and began fundraising in January. Denn said about 150 people contributed to TBI and brain cancer research through the climb.
In June, Denn and his partners ascended the mountain along with a guide from Rainier Mountaineering Inc. and reached the summit on June 26. Despite two weeks of blizzard conditions that prevented other teams from summiting, the weather improved dramatically for Denn’s climb. The final leg of the climb began at midnight underneath a clear view of the Milky Way and involved technical pitches with ropes on ice and rock. Because of an equipment failure, Denn had to stop just short of the summit but the rest of his team were able to carry the Tug McGraw Foundation banner to the top.
The climb was a personal victory for Denn. He and his climbing partner, Josh Stiefel from New York, had attempted a climb in Bolivia the previous year but Denn became ill with myocarditis, a viral heart inflammation that led to medical evacuation back to the states and a year of follow-up with heart medication.“It was humbling, to be at the peak of physical fitness and after successfully serving through multiple deployments to be felled by this infection,” Denn said.
Denn met Stiefel while attending graduate studies at Harvard in 2013, and they have been climbing together since. He began climbing as a serious hobby ealier while stationed in Colorado.
Josh, Ava, Officer Manager at TMF who tracked their every step, and Will
Josh, Tim and Will Celebrating Their Great Victory at Sky Ball as the guests of Tug McGraw
SOURCE: Harry Sarles | Army University Public Affairs