Father, daughter climb Mt. Everest to support Tucson children

Father, daughter climb Mt. Everest to support Tucson children
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - They are all together as one on the hardest journey of their lives.

The Chuinard Hepner family spent Monday evening, June 11, in the kitchen preparing dinner, as their biggest supporters are on a journey of their own more than 8,000 miles away.

"They say they're gleaning strength from my kids' fight," Lisa Chuinard Hepner said. "But their support and rallying for our family is giving them strength, too, and our family strength, too."

They are all stronger together after a life-threatening diagnosis.

11-year-old Noah Hepner was stricken with Leukemia in August 2015 and is going through three and a half years of treatment.

Eight months later, his 12-year-old sister, MeiLi, was found to have numerous brain tumors. She was diagnosed with a condition known as Neurofibromatosis Type 2, which has led to deafness and impaired vision.

"There's no question that it's been tough. There's no question about that," Lisa said. "A lot of times when families go through trauma people step up to the plate right away, at the beginning. Then it sort of tapers off after a while and it gets a little more lonely."

That is, until her "two angels" showed up at their doorstep.

Tucson man Curt Stinson and his daughter, Zoe, wanted to lift Noah and MeiLi's spirits as they scaled the world's tallest peak.

In a journey documented on their Facebook page, Curt and Zoe are traveling up to the Mt. Everest Base Camp, at more than 17,000 feet of elevation.

While doing so, they are working to raise money for the Chuinard Hepner family through a GoFundMe page.

"My family made a real big connection with this great family that we're fundraising for and trekking for," Curt Stinson said in one of the videos sent to the family and posted on the Facebook page.

The children are overjoyed by the show of support.

"It's pretty awesome. I think it's really cool what they're doing for our family," Noah told Tucson News Now.

"Because they support us," MeiLi said through her mother who was translating, when asked why it's awesome to see what Curt and Zoe are doing.

"They're meeting all kinds of incredible people and sharing our story with other people. There's a collective hurrah behind getting MeiLi and Noah up to Everest Base Camp, because they are proverbially with them," Lisa explained.

After everything they've been through, the family is looking at the bright side of their struggle: The people around them raising up others to extraordinary heights.

"There's always a silver lining in all of it. One of the silver linings is that we live in Tucson and Tucson is an amazing community," Lisa said. "People rally. They rally."

Follow along and support Noah and MeiLi on GoFundMe: CLICK HERE

Copyright 2018 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.