Climbing for Cole
Contact: Justin Long
View a photo gallery from Amherst's "Climb for Cole"
AMHERST, Mass. – The Amherst College men’s lacrosse program reached new heights last spring by advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Championship. But that’s nothing compared to what the Lord Jeffs have accomplished this offseason.
Cole Seem—the 11-year-old brother of Amherst men’s lacrosse first-year Ted Seem—is living with cerebral palsy. At the Lord Jeffs’ first team meeting of the year, they entertained the idea of raising money and awareness for the United Cerebral Palsy foundation. In early September, the “Climb for Cole” was born.
The Lord Jeffs wanted to help Cole and thousands of children like him achieve a greater level of independence and physical freedom, but they wanted to do more than raise money. More importantly, they wanted to demonstrate their commitment and dedication by accomplishing a challenging physical task, which those with cerebral palsy are often unable to do.
On the morning of Friday, Oct. 28, members of the Amherst men’s lacrosse team began their quest to scale the “Seven Sisters”—a mountain range consisting of 10 peaks and more than 4,000 feet of vertical climb along the Holyoke Range in Western Massachusetts.
Cole and his family arrived at Skinner State Park and spent the majority of the day with the team. The hike began at 10 a.m. and provided early challenges with leaves and three inches of snow creating a slick surface. Cole was able to walk portions of the trails, but at times he was carried by his new teammates.
Nine members of the lacrosse team hiked the full 16 miles that day, finishing their climb on Mount Norwottuck. After seven hours the Lord Jeffs stood atop the highest peak of the Holyoke Range as Cole overlooked the Amherst fall foliage alongside his brother and teammates.
Amherst head coach Jon Thompson led his lacrosse program memorable moments during his inaugural 2011 season, but the Climb for Cole is in a league of its own. “To see young men carry Cole to the top of Mt. Norwottuck on our final leg after running 13 miles was as proud a moment as I have had since arriving at Amherst,” Thompson says. “Cole’s relentless positivity put things in perspective for many of us.”
Through donations from friends, family, coaches, faculty and administration, the men’s lacrosse team expects to meet its goal of raising $10,000 for United Cerebral Palsy. In 2010 the Lord Jeffs raised more than $10,000 for the Sussman Family Fund and breast cancer research through the Run for Ruth. “We do these events not only to raise money and awareness, but to convey an underlying theme of empathy on our team,” says team captain Evan Redwood ’12. “It's important that we realize that there are causes bigger than ourselves that involve bettering the lives of others.”
Amherst is also a strong supporter of Rebuilding Together in an effort to help the homeless, disabled and military veterans of nearby Springfield. “We take pride in becoming better men with each passing day,” Thompson says. “With that commitment we turn our attention toward transcendent causes.”
The mission of United Cerebral Palsy is to advance the independence, productivity, and full citizenship of people with the disease. Leading Cole to the top of the Holyoke Range helped Amherst contribute to that mission. “As Cole walked and piggy-backed on my teammates up the mountain, you could sense something special,” Redwood says. “This event and Cole's strength will be the place that our team looks for inspiration for the rest of the season.”
If you are interested in donating to the Amherst men’s lacrosse team’s cause, a check can be made out to “United Cerebral Palsy” and either given to an Amherst lacrosse player or coach, or sent directly to the address below. To ensure that the money goes to our project, please put Climb for Cole / Amherst Lacrosse in the bottom left-hand corner of your check.
UCP Berkshire County
208 West Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Donations can also be made online at www.ucpberkshire.org. Any and all pledges will go directly to the UCP and their Berkshire County organization. The UCP is a registered 501(c)(3) charity, and all donations are tax deductible.