By Skye Kinkade
The Breast Cancer Fund Climb Against the Odds is returning to Mount Shasta this June 13-19 as climbers from around the United States ascend the 14,169 foot peak to raise funds for education and research to prevent and cure the disease.
Mount Shasta resident Karen Pautz is the officially recognized climber from Siskiyou County, and though she has never been touched by breast cancer on a personal level, she says she’s dedicating her journey to several close friends who have.
“It’s been a goal of mine to climb Mt. Shasta,” Pautz said. “When I heard about Climb Against the Odds, I just thought it was a great opportunity to honor some special people in my life.”
Pautz said she’s particularly dedicated to the Breast Cancer Fund “because it’s one of the only organizations that concentrates on prevention and not just intervention.
“As a woman who’s really interested in finding ways to prevent the environmental causes that harm children and adults, the Breast Cancer Fund is amazing. I feel we don’t invest enough in prevention of diseases.”
As the executive director of First Five Siskiyou, Pautz has seen firsthand the impact that cancers have on not just the patient, but also their entire family and community as a whole.
Through her connections with First Five and Community Resource Centers across the county, Pautz said she’s excited that they’ll be a resource to help spread the word about cancer prevention and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s been wonderful that [the resource centers] have embraced this, and each has agreed to help with fundraising and bringing awareness to my endeavor.”
One of the people Pautz is dedicating her climb to is Donna Burcher, the executive director of the Butte Valley Community Resource Center.
“While battling with cancer, Donna has diligently worked hard and dedicated herself to making Butte Valley a better place for children and families,” Pautz said. “Donna’s positive attitude, big heart  and genuine care for people is a model for others. This is a very small way to thank her and show her on behalf of the Family Resource Centers, Community Services Council and First 5 Siskiyou that we care.”
To prepare for the climb, Pautz has been hitting the gym regularly, and has been snowshoeing on Rainbow Ridge one or two days each week.
“I’ve been fortunate to have help from climbers Annie Bowles, Linda Chitwood and Nancy Driscoll,” Pautz said.
“Up until a few years ago, I really never had the desire to climb Mt. Shasta,” Pautz admitted. “But over the last couple of years, I’ve been getting stronger and stronger, and once you’re up in the hills, it’s addicting. You see views you’ve never seen before... we live in such an incredibly beautiful area.”
Pautz said her goal is to raise one dollar for every foot she climbs, for a grand total of  at least $14,169, which will go directly to Breast Cancer Services of Siskiyou County.
BCSSC programs include a resource center with a substantial assortment of books, videos, tapes and CDs, donations to hospice programs, raft trips for cancer survivors, yoga classes, consultation planning service, and financial help to cover the cost of medications and treatment.
“I’m really open to advice,” Pautz said. “This is definitely going to be a challenge, but I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
All donations made to the climb are tax deductible. The Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers will donate $10 of every e-edition subscription ($24.99 a year) to Pautz’s climb. Call 926-5214 to sign up.
You can reach Pautz directly at karenpautz@sbcglobal.net, or you can go to the website www.climbagainsttheodds and click on the link to sponsor a climber.