9-Year-Old with Heart Condition Summits Fourth Tallest Mountain in the World

Patricia Howard | September 27th, 2017
Sarah Balogach Getter, Facebook

Two years ago, the Getter family set out for one of the most unconventional and memorable vacations of their lives. They were heading to Disneyland or the Grand Canyon. In fact, their destination wasn’t even in the United States. The family of four traveled thousands of miles so that they could climb the fourth tallest mountain in the world – Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro. But what makes this story truly amazing is not the distance they traveled or even the destination. It’s that children Roxy and Ben Getter both have heart conditions.

Both children were born with small holes in their hearts. Their conditions require frequent monitoring and constant vigilance from everyone in the family. But that doesn’t keep Roxy or Ben from diving head first into all sorts of activities from gymnastics and horseback riding to soccer and surfing. And it didn’t stop them from conquering on the tallest mountains on the planet either.

Even though their conditions might seem scary, the Getter kids just don’t see things that way. “The kids – they’re not afraid of things,” said Sarah Getter, their mother. And thanks to their parents’ proactive approach to their health, they have little reason to worry. The family made sure to get their doctor’s blessing before heading off for their historic hike, and even brought a physician along for the ride. “We like to be adventurous, but in a safe way,” Sarah said.

“We didn’t go into it saying, ‘We’re all going to make it to the top,’” she shared. “We went into it saying, ‘We’re going to be safe and do the best we can. And if we make it to the top, that’s amazing.’” So, with every possible medication and a plan to get the kids off the mountain in necessary, the family of four began their hike to the top on a cold and dark night. When they finally reached the top, Roxy – who was 9 at the time – became the youngest girl to complete the hike.

“They really did it for themselves,” Sarah said. “We didn’t push them. They didn’t whine or complain. They wanted to do it. And that was really neat, to see your kids accomplish something like that.” In fact, the kids did great during the whole journey. Ironically, it was Sarah who had difficulty with the altitude while her kids happily climbed on.

The Getter’s story is a unique and inspiring one. But it’s also a testament to the power of preventative healthcare and an unstoppable will. Roxy and Ben have been raised to respect their medical conditions, but not to let them control their lives. And it’s that mentality that helped the Getter family reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

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