Chicago Climber Embarks On Mt. Everest, Raises Money For Lurie Children's Patients

Lisa Fielding
March 21, 2019 - 10:39 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Alex Pancoe was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 18 and was treated at Lurie Children's Hospital.

"Mine was benign, but when I got through it, I knew I wanted to give back somehow," he said.

So three years ago, he embarked on a challenge to climb seven of the highest mountains on each continent and raise money for patients like him. So far, he's conquered five of the seven climbs. But he had a life changing moment last summer in Colorado when he fell into a jagged rock and injured his leg.

"That time I almost died," he laughed.

Approaching the summit of Island Peak in the Himalayas! Another summit in the bag — and a great training climb on the way to the ultimate summit — raising a million dollars for pediatric brain tumor research @luriechildrens by completing the Explorers Grand Slam — the ultimate physical and mental challenge — climbing the seven summits and ski traversing to both the north and South Pole. We’re more then halfway there! @anyarjones for the amazing capture!l . . . . . . . . #summit #sevensummits #wanderlust #mountains #mountainclimbing #climbing #climber #adventure #adrenalinejunkie #traveljunkie #travel #adventurer #altitude #dreambig #whataview #himalayas #experience @teamluriechildrens @dianepathieu @abc7chicago #optoutside

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"A blackhawk helicopter came and rescued me. I'll have to tell you more about that another time," he recalls, rolling his eyes. Six weeks later he was back climbing. He said the kids motivate him to keep going.

"When I'm climbing mountains, I'm really motivated. Knowing I'm doing this for patients like me keeps me focused."

On Wednesday, young patients signed a flag that Pancoe will take with him to Mount Everest, his latest challenge.

A Chicago man is climbing for a cause as he leaves this weekend to tackle Mount Everest, and continue his quest to finish the Explorer's Grand Slam.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"I'm really prepared. I've worked three years for this. This is the biggest challenge of my life. Two months in one of the harshest, most dangerous conditions," he said. "I've had to wrestle with the fact that this is one of those times when things can happen. Physically, mentally, I'm ready for it and I really want it."

He is flying out on Sunday, and after spending a week in Hong Kong, he’ll arrive at base camp in mid-April. If all goes well, he will reach the summit about a month later.

A Chicago man is climbing for a cause as he leaves this weekend to tackle Mount Everest, and continue his quest to finish the Explorer's Grand Slam.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"When we heard Alex was doing this for kids like River, it touches my heart that he does this for the kids. When he reached out, I was so inspired by him. I wish there were more people like Alex in this world," said Lucy Dennis, who's 3-year-old son River is being treated for an ADRT tumor.

Pancoe said when he reaches the top of Everest, he'll post the signed Lurie flag.

"I take three flags up. The W flag for the Cubs, the Northwestern flag for my school and the Lurie's flag. These are all important institutions to Chicago and I'm doing that to raise some Chicago pride and raise funds for a very important hospital to me," he said.

Flying the W from the roof of Antarctica!!! Why the Cubs? I've been a Cubs fan for as long as I can remember. What happened in 2016 was beyond baseball. The electricity...the community. You can't put it into words. The Cubs are the best of chicago. The best of our community. Since as long as I have been a Cubs fan they have been partners of another chicago institution -- Lurie Children's. Luries is a huge source of pride for chicago. On the holistic level, the research and innovation level -- luries makes the best of difficult situations. I personally had a brain tumor there and was lucky. Many aren't. We've raised 300k with another 700k to go. Share please. Let's do this together. Four of the Seven summits down. Everest is getting close. . . . . . . . . . . #sevensummits #climb #climbingcrew #climbing #flythew #mountains #beatcancer #cancer #wanderlust #traveljunkie #altitude #cubs #adrenalinejunkie #explore #experiences #optoutside @teamluriechildrens @luriechildrens @arizz_44 @anthony_rizzo_familyfoundation @cubs @chicagocubsnation @cubbyblue @brianduensing52 #chicago #chicagopride #cubs

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Over 3,000 kids are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year. According to, pediatric brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related death among children and adolescents ages 0-19, surpassing leukemia. Pancoe is trying to raise a million dollars for research to be directed to Lurie's Children’s neurological surgery division.

So far, he's raised $400,000 of his one million dollar goal.  For more information or to donate, log onto