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School of Medicine Faculty Member is Making the Climb of a Lifetime for Charity

A University of Maryland School of Medicine faculty member and his son will take on the expedition of a lifetime when they climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.

Matthew Weir, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Division of Nephrology, and his son Ryan is traveling to Arusha, Tanzania on Sept. 2 to 16 to climb the tallest peak in Africa. For every foot they climb, they hope to raise one dollar towards research for the Maryland chapter of JDRF. Dubbed "Searching for A Cure Atop Mt. Kilimanjaro" the 19,341-foot ascent is an extremely challenging mountain climb with diverse weather conditions varying from tropical forests to glacial fields.

"Every day I see the patients with diabetes and recognize how devastating this disease can be," said Weir, who does research and cares for patients with diabetic kidney disease and treats others who require kidney and/or pancreas transplants.

Both men decided this adventure needed an additional challenge - to people in Maryland - to get out and fund-raise. "I wanted our trek make a difference in the lives of others by raising money and awareness for a disease that has affected many close friends and colleagues," said Ryan Weir, a business banking officer for M&T Bank in Towson.

The two began their fundraising campaign through a series of e-mails to friends and family and it has now gone viral through Facebook and Twitter. So far, they have reached roughly 5 percent of their goal. They plan to give daily updates of their adventurous climb via Twitter at: www.twitter.com/cureatopkili. People interested in supporting the effort may visit http://jdrfevents.donordrive.com/event/cureatopmtkilimanjaro/

M&T Bank will make a $1,000 donation to JDRF in support of the Weirs' fundraising effort.

"We are proud to support Ryan and his father in their impressive effort to raise money for such an important organization as JDRF," said Atwood "Woody" Collins III, president of M&T Bank's Mid-Atlantic Division. "All of Ryan's colleagues at M&T wish them well on their climb and we will be following their progress and cheering them on."

Both are avid sportsmen and marathon runners, but neither of them has climbed a mountain as high as Mount Kilimanjaro.

"This adventure will benefit a great charity, but will also be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a father and son. I was looking for someone who would do this with me and I cannot think of a greater father-son bonding experience," said Ryan Weir.

JDRF is the leading charitable funder and advocate of juvenile (type 1) diabetes research worldwide, and was founded in 1970 by the parents of children with juvenile diabetes - a disease that strikes children suddenly, makes them insulin dependent for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications. In a typical year, more than 85 percent of JDRF's expenditures directly support research and research-related education. JDRF's mission is constant: to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.

Posting Date: 09/02/2010
Contact Name: Karen Buckelew
Contact Phone: 410-706-7590
Contact Email: KBuckelew@som.umaryland.edu