In Honor of His Patients, Dr. Revilla Sets His Sights on a Summit


In the background, Mt. Sajama. Foreground, photos of Dr. Revilla on the Peruvian mountain Chopicalqui nearly two decades ago.

Movement disorders specialist Fredy J. Revilla, MD, won’t be able to attend the Sunflower Revolution bike ride and symposium this year. But he is hoping to send a big hello – and a hurrah! – from the summit of Mount Sajama, the highest mountain in Bolivia. Dr. Revilla hopes to reach the summit, 6,542 meters (21,463 feet) above sea level, on Sept. 7, the day before the Sunflower events.

As Director of the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders, a component of the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute and UC Health, Dr. Revilla is dedicating his summit to his patients who struggle with Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. He is hoping to inspire people in the way that he has long been inspired by Davis Phinney, the Tour de France cyclist who co-founded the Sunflower Revolution, and he is inviting friends and supporters to acknowledge his effort by making a donation to the Gardner Center.

Davis, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 40, has been a voice of hope for people with Parkinson’s with his message of “every victory counts” and his Victory Summit® symposia. Dr. Revilla said he hopes his climb will echo “everything that Davis has promoted: that you should live a whole life and that no matter what you have, go with what you have.”

To make a gift in support of Dr. Revilla’s summit of Mt. Sajama, click here >> When asked whether you would like to designate your gift further, you may  type in “Dr. Revilla’s Summit.”

The timing of the Sunflower and Dr. Revilla’s climb of Mt. Sajama is a coincidence.

“I had been a climber for many years in my 20’s and even into my 30’s,” said Dr. Revilla, pictured at right. “Now I’m 48, and when this opportunity came up I signed up immediately. I thought I would do it as my personal challenge and do fundraising for Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. I didn’t want to wait too long, because this might be my last shot at it.”

Mt. Sajama will not be the highest mountain Dr. Revilla has climbed. The highest was Huascarán, which at 6,768 meters (22,205 feet) is the highest mountain in Peru. Dr. Revilla grew up in the shadow of the Andes mountains in Arequipa, Peru.

Dr. Revilla will travel to Peru to give a talk in late August, then will fly to La Paz, Bolivia, where he and his climbing partner, Stephen Burrington of Cincinnati, will spend two weeks acclimatizing and climbing two lower peaks.

We do not need to worry about Dr. Revilla’s safety, he assures us, because he and Mr. Burrington will be climbing with a guide who is intimately acquainted with the mountain and because they are going at the right time of year. “We’ll have crampons and ice axes and all that, but it’s not dangerous,” Dr. Revilla said. “It’s not like going up Mt. Everest.”

Dr. Revilla has been training for months for the climb, kayaking, running, and going up and down stairs with a backpack filled with gallons of water. The final backpack weight will be 45 to 50 pounds. “Summiting a high mountain is like running a super marathon,” he said. “If you don’t make it, it’s because you didn’t train enough.”

— Cindy Starr

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