The summer’s Outdoor Retailer tradeshow just winded up, and Outdoor Parents, Outdoor
Kids was there in force. Eight signings in the Paddling, Endurance and Climbing zones, as
well as at book tour sponsors Kelty and Big Agnes, an interview on Snews TV, and getting
one into the hands of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, on hand to promote the Obama
administration’s American’s Great Outdoors initiative…
And here’s a note from the front lines in getting kids outside.
While other children across the country might be enjoying more sedentary summer vacations,
on July 16 12-year-old Mountain Hardwear athlete Matt Moniz set a new record for reaching
the 50 highest points in all 50 U.S. states in 43 days, 3 hours, 51 minutes and 9 seconds. The
final piece of the puzzle: Hawaii's 13,796-footMauna Kai.
“It feels pretty good,” said the up and coming Reinhold Messner, who relaxed in the
Aloha State for a few days afterward before coming to Outdoor Retailer. “I’ve done a lot of
interviews since then.”
For Matt, it wasn’t all about reaching the country’s high points. When he and his
dad, Mike, set out on the mission, their intention wasn’t to set a record but raise awareness
about pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), an illness suffered by his best friend Ian Hess.
The disease restricts blood flow to the lungs, resulting in breathlessness and fatigue – enough
to make Ian feel like he’s on Mount Everest every day.
"Matt's accomplishment is impressive for any age, but that’s not the only reason we’re
honoring him," said Mountain Hardwear’s Erin Brosterhous, who yesterday presented the company’s
first youth athlete with a check for $1,000 for the Ian Hess Breathe Easy Fund (www.climb7.com).
"We’re committed to getting youth outdoors and Matt sets a great example to other kids about how
far a passion for the outdoors and a commitment to a cause can take someone."
Mauna Kai was latest of many mountains that Matt and his dad
climbed over the last two summers to raise awareness about PAH. Last
summer Matt climbed 14 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in eight days to
raise money for the cause, and to kick off this summer’s mountainous marathon
he summited Alaska’s 20,320-foot Denali.
And perhaps no one is more proud of him than his dad, who’s been
with him every step of the way.
“He has an unnatural enthusiasm to be outdoors,” says Mike. “It’s all
about the journey for him. He always has a smile on his face and keeps everyone’s
spirits up. He’s the perfect climbing partner.”
An ambassador for the Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Nation program,
Matt hopes his efforts can encourage others kids to follow his lead into the outdoors.
“If kids don’t appreciate the outdoors, they’ll never have respect for it,” he said,
before being whisked away for another interview. “And then they might start building
cities in national parks and things.”