Adventurous chaplain encourages kids to get up and get moving

May 1, 2012


Pastoral care chaplain Walter Glover understands the importance of actively maintaining his health. His father died of a heart attack at the age of 57; his brother died at the age of 48. But his mother's family all enjoyed long, healthy lives.

"It's been imprinted on me how wellness is something to be vigilant about," said Glover, who ministers at St. Vincent Salem Hospital in Salem, Ind., and St. Vincent Dunn Hospital in Bedford, Ind.

"When I see how youth obesity is impacting the children of our community, I want to tell them what I know." (In Indiana, more than one in four children is overweight or obese, according to government data.) "I will never forget being in the emergency room when a young man died of a heart attack that was triggered in part by his weight," said Glover. "I never want to see something like that again."

Glover has raised $80,000 to support youth antiobesity programs at St. Vincent Salem, St. Vincent Dunn and St. Vincent Jennings Hospital of North Vernon, Ind. He has done it energetically, by soliciting sponsors for his attempts to scale four of the so-called "Seven Summits."

Glover recently returned from Argentina, where he climbed 21,000 feet up Mount Aconcagua, a personal best. Glover also has climbed Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, Mount Elbrus in Russia, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and to a base camp at Mount Everest in Nepal.

Glover documents his adventures on the website

He hasn't always reached the summit when that was his goal; the 64-year-old Glover knows his limits. But before descending each mountain, Glover prays for former patients who have died.

"If your theology maintains that heaven is a place above us, I'm thinking I can't get any closer to heaven on earth," said Glover, a certified grief counselor. "So I say hi to all of the kids who have died and I pray for their parents and for grace, mercy, faith and peace."

Glover has long been fascinated by the elite climbers who scale the world's most treacherous mountains, but as a young man he never imagined he would or could tackle the same challenge.

"In 2005, I heard this voice, 'You know, you could do that,'" recalled Glover. "I just blew the voice off. I mean, come on now. A year later the voice returns with more volume and more intensity. This time it was not to be blown off. The next click of mouse was to a site about climbing Mount Everest."

In the Himalayas, Glover participated in morning prayer with Buddhist monks. He didn't understand their words, but he was struck by the sacredness of those mornings.

"I walk outside and there are the highest peaks in the world," said Glover. "Here I am seeing what the creator has put before us. It was an amazing experience."

That was before the altitude sickness struck. It took weeks for Glover to fully recover from his Everest excursion. But he had been to the mountain (technically to a base camp of the 29,029-foot Everest) and he was game to try again on Mount Kilimanjaro. That climb was his first attempt to tie his treks to fund-raising efforts for youth obesity programs.

Glover covers the entire cost of his trips. He asks supporters to pledge a dollar amount for every foot he climbs. All of the money raised goes to bringing "L.I.F.E. for Kids," the holistic youth obesity program at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent in Indianapolis, to the other St. Vincent hospitals. "That way we can help kids in outlying rural areas," said Glover. L.I.F.E. stands for Lifetime Individual Fitness and Eating.

Glover concedes he has neither the money nor the skill and endurance to climb the remaining two peaks of the Seven Summits. But he's not going to stop climbing. He hopes to continue raising money by scaling some of America's top mountains.

Glover meets with kids in the L.I.F.E. program and tells them about his adventures. He wants them to make a lifetime commitment to fitness.

> Download the 2Trek4Kids Expedition Aconcagua brochure


Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.