A Lyndonville man and local pastor will hike through "fire and ice" next month to raise money for the fight against multiple myeloma, a cancer that targets white blood cells.
John Klatt, 66, is joining a trek through southern Iceland with Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma, a collaborative campaign to raise funds for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
The journey will begin Aug. 7 in Reykjavik, Iceland's capital and largest city, and conclude five days later at the 200-foot Skogafoss Waterfall. Along the way they will pass volcanoes, geysers, lava beds, hot springs and glaciers — hence the trail's nickname, "fire and ice." Their 12-person MM4MM team will hike seven to eight hour days and rest overnight at a series of mountain huts.
Each team member is tasked to try and raise $7,500 for the foundation.
Klatt, who has raised more than $7,000 so far from friends and family, said the hike is his way of paying it forward to those who helped him through cancer.
In 2016, Klatt was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Thanks to a stem cell transplant he received at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Klatt has been in good health for about two years and enjoys a positive outlook.
"The past two years I’ve felt much stronger and more like myself,” Klatt said.
Klatt, a Lyndonville native who has served Lutheran congregations in North Tonawanda and the Southtowns, said he became involved in MM4MM because of his lifelong love for hiking. He has hiked throughout upstate New York locales, such as the Adirondacks and Catskills, but has never before ventured to the North Atlantic island, famed for its unique geological activity.
Joining Klatt on the hike is his sister, Mary Schlabach, of South Wales, NY, who acted as his caregiver during his battle with cancer.
Klatt remains in a clinical trial at Roswell Park, but considers himself lucky to be alive and in good health.
"So far my numbers have been very good, and I’m feeling better and better," Klatt said. "I’m very thankful.”
Since its creation in 2016, MM4MM has launched treks up Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Fuji, to Machu Picchu and to the Everest Base Camp. The campaign has raised almost $2.5 million for cancer research.
"Everyone walks away from these events inspired and rewarded knowing they’ve positively impacted the lives of patients," said Jane Hoffmann, associate director of the foundation's Team for Cures.