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Climb for a cause

A Buderim student plans to scale one of the world’s toughest mountains to raise money for cancer research.


Climb for a cause

A Buderim student plans to scale one of the world’s toughest mountains to raise money for cancer research.

Ben O’Connor is no stranger to the challenge of a good mountain trek, having tackled Everest base camp with his father Andrew by his side.

Now, the 13-year-old Sunshine Coast student is preparing to take on the third highest mountain in Nepal to raise money for osteosarcoma.

Inspired by his friend’s battle with the rare form of cancer, Ben created the Summit for Sacroma challenge in a bid to raise funds for research. In October, he will take on the 6476-metre high Mera Peak in the Himalayas.

Andrew O’Connor says his son is close to his fundraising target of $64,760 – $10 for every metre he will climb – but needs the community’s help to raise the final $8000.

“What makes this a little bit different, is that we are specifically targeting osteosarcoma research because it is a rarer form of cancer,” Mr O’Connor says.

“There is a real lack of funding as it doesn’t get all the attention other forms of cancer do, yet there is a higher rate of diagnosis in young adults, particularly males.

“Because of this, the treatment options for osteosarcoma patients are limited and the odds are stacked against you once you have been diagnosed.”

Less than one per cent of cancer research funding is allocated to sarcoma and yet this rare group of cancers makes up 20 per cent of diagnosed childhood cancers.

The O’Connors will personally fund the summit challenge so all money raised will benefit QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute to help Dr Mark Smyth continue his vital research into finding a cure for sarcoma.

The duo has committed to a tough training schedule that involves daily hikes on Mount Coolum’s 1.6-kilometre return track in preparation for the climb in the Himalayas.

Training also includes regular gym sessions as Matthew Flinders Anglican College, where Ben is a student, has helped out with a gym membership and exercise physiology support.

Ben says in preparing for the challenge, he has found the process of setting a goal to achieve very fulfilling.

“I’ve learnt that I have much more potential than I thought. I’ve also realised that people are so generous with their donations and care a lot about finding a cure for sarcoma,” he says.

“Being in the mountains makes me feel alive. I am really looking forward to reaching the summit.”

To make a donation and support Ben’s Summit for Sarcoma 2019 challenge visit


Roxy has been a journalist for more than a decade and joined the MWP team at the end of 2016. She is a chocolate-powered writing machine who loves to engage with the Coast community, uncover untold inspirational stories and share information that can help people.

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