Len Forkas, a Reston-based businessman, is skiing to the North Pole in a few weeks to break the ice on support for kids with cancer.
The 63-year-old — who is described as an “ultra-endurance athlete” — plans to ski 60 miles to the North Pole in order to raise money for Hopecam, a nonprofit organization he founded that connects children undergoing cancer treatment with their friends.
“I know some people think I’m crazy,” Forkas said. “But I think of myself as crazy about Hopecam’s kids. I hope I’ve convinced everybody that I’ll go to any length to support them.”
For Forkas, the trek is will bring him one step closer to his goal of completing the Explorer’s Grand Slam, a physical challenge that includes a trek to the North Pole, the South Pole, and all the highest mountain peaks on each of the seven continents, known as the Seven Summits.
So far, Forkas has travelled to five of the Seven Summits. He hopes to check off this physical challenge by August 2024 in time for his 65th birthday.
He plans to fly to a Norwegian village at the end of the month to meet the expedition team. They will then fly to a temporary camp in the Arctic Ocean.
Forkas founded Hopecam through personal struggle.
In 2002, his son, Matt, was diagnosed with leukemia. Forkas received permission from Fairfax County Public Schools to install a webcam in the classroom of a school in Great Falls to make sure Matt could participate. He began competing in ultra-endurance sports at the time of his son’s diagnosis.
“The exercise helped me cope with the stress of Matt’s illness,” he said. Matt, now 30, survived the bout of illness.
Forkas hopes to raise $60,000 for the nonprofit organization by matching the 60 miles he will ski to the North Pole. So far, the campaign has raised over $10,500, as of this morning.
With Hopecam, kids are provided with a tablet computer with a webcam, internet access if it’s unavailable, and assistance to work with the school so they can take part in some classroom activities and see their friends.
The nonprofit organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It aims to overcome the social isolation that kids often experience while they receive cancer treatment.
“His North Pole journey presents a timely opportunity to showcase this noteworthy occasion,” Brett Fox, Hopecam’s development director, said.
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