Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for January, 2019


Today is summit day. We were up at midnight (after going to sleep – or trying to – at 5pm yesterday) to climb seven hours in the dark to summit at sunrise. Today we climb to 19,340 feet.

Today, as I have every day since January 24, 1992, I honor my teammates: the Notre Dame Swimming and Diving team of 1991-92, and in particular, Colleen Hipp and Meghan Beeler. Today is dark, cold and hard. I am tired, I have a headache and my body aches to match. But I will carryon and persevere with the help of my teammates.

At the site of our accident so many years ago (27 years this month), there was a sign woven into the nearby chainlink fence. It read: God Bless ND Swim. Today, this rock will be placed at the highest point in Africa to honor my team and my teammates.

God Bless ND Swim.


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    Today I climb for my boys. All three of them. People often tell me that I have three children (Jamie, James and Edward). Ha ha. And sometimes I feel like I do. (Actually, I have five children – two furry ones.)

    Not only do I have stones from each of my boys, but I have other gifts too. For Christmas, James gave me a medal of St. Bernard of Montjoux, the patron saint of hikers. I wore it through my last two weeks of training and I am wearing it up the mountain. Edward also gave me a meaningful gift: a special t-shirt with a message that has meaning to the two of us. I wore it on the plane and will wear it when I summit. So both boys will – literally – be close to my heart on the climb.

    “Tonight” we are at 15,200 feet. We will go to bed at 5pm, wake up at midnight, and hike until 7am – in the dark (and cold) – to the summit at sunrise. If you find yourself saying a prayer today, send one to St. Bernard of Montjoux for us! And if you aren’t one to pray, just turn southeast towards Tanzania and send us your warm wishes. Because it’s gonna be cold!

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    Today we climb from Shira Camp to Barranco Camp at almost 13,ooo feet (12,959 feet to be exact). Along the way, we will pass the lava tower (called “Shark’s Tooth”) and arrow glacier.

    Today’s stone is in honor of Sully, an almost-ten-year-old boy who has been fighting stage IV neuroblastoma for half his life. He has relapsed twice. No child with his stage of disease has survived one relapse. And yet, just last month he had his port removed.

    There aren’t enough words to express what a superhero Sully is, and his parents, and his two brothers. They are a super hero family that I am privileged to know. When I gave Sully a stone, I told him: If you can move mountains, I can climb one. And I asked him to decorate it. In true Sully fashion, he was thinking of others. His stone is a combination of two forces in his life: the fight (he is WINNING) against Childhood Cancer, and the United States Naval Academy, where he is a hero among heroes as an honorary member of some of their sports teams. I know Sully’s stone is also a tribute to his forever friends in heaven.

    Sully, I am taking you to the top of the mountain! And when it gets hard and I am tired and cold, I will continue because your spirit is with me.




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    Today’s stone honors those affected by the bus accident in Paramus, NJ, that killed a 5th grader and a teacher from East Brook Middle School.

    I visited East Brook in the Fall and have stayed in touch with some of the families. One family has a connection to my own: the mom, Claudia, was my husband’s high school prom date; and also a connection to my own accident: Claudia was an age-group teammate of Meghan Beeler’s. Claudia’s daughter, Lauren, was injured in the bus accident, and we have corresponded over the past several months.

    I sent Lauren a stone to decorate, so I could honor her and her classmates and her school. Paramus Strong gives me the strength today to hike from Machame Camp to Shira Camp at 11,400 feet.

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    For the past two days we have been acclimating to the higher altitude of Tanzania. Especially for I, who lives at sea level, it has been nice to slowly adjust to the higher altitude. We have done a couple of day hikes, visited Fr. David’s home (a fellow ND Trail Pilgrim), and shared our hopes and fears for the climb that begins today.

    We are at around 7000 feet in Maua and will drive to Machame Gate to begin our climb. We will end our hike at Machame Camp at 9300 feet.

    Today I begin my climb praying for Peace. Peace on the mountain. Peace in the world and Peace in our hearts.

    This stone was given to me by a friend (who has a friend) who hopes to place one million peace rocks around the world. I have two; one for the summit and one for the safari. (Although I’m not sure how much peace the animals encounter in the wild…)

    Today, let’s pray for PEACE.


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    Yesterday I boarded a flight to Tanzania, by way of Ethiopia. I was a bit nervous to travel alone, but my nerves led to excitement for the adventure ahead.

    But we are never really alone. There are so many who helped me get here.

    My husband, who always encourages me to live my adventures. I am so grateful for his love and acceptance of who I am, what I need to do, and his understanding that life with me isn’t routine.

    My friends and training partners. I have walked, hiked and talked for miles with a few different women whose friendship has entertained me through hours of training. We’ve also solved some parenting issues, laughed and shed tears, and I will carry their friendship with me (along with some of the gear they have lent me) to the summit.

    My ND Trail Pilgrims. During the summer of 2017, 32 Pilgrims walked 320 miles on the ND Trail. Some of these Pilgrims will climb with me this week; but the rest will cheer us on, and pray for us, from afar. I know my entire Notre Dame family is with me.

    My parents will hold down the fort while I am gone (and drive, cook and do laundry for my children). The boys are fairly independent, which makes this adventure easier to do; but I am grateful for my parents presence, which gives me peace of mind.

    And my intentions. My stones. I am not alone because of the stones I will carry. It is a tradition on some pilgrimages to carry intention stones. These can be prayers, these can be stones from home, these can be to honor someone. Mine will do all three. And each day as I climb, I will share my stone of the day. And with any luck (and a lot of prayers, and support, and training), I will leave these stones at the summit of Kilimanjaro.

    Please keep us in your prayers!

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