Former UW Husky seeks healing, successfully climbs Seven Summits

A former University of Washington and retired NFL player ended up pursuing a much higher aspiration.  

In May, Mark Pattison became one of the first former NFL players to climb the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. 

About nine years ago, Pattison was going through a "rough patch" in his life when he realized he needed something to help him get through the tough times. 

"And at the end of the day, for me, I needed something big to pull me out of that hole," said Pattison.

What the former Husky and NFL player ended up doing wasn’t just big, it was historic.

"Of course, I thought it would be seven years and seven mountains and you know, Covid hit and that shut down the world last year," said Pattison. 

That wasn’t the only challenge Pattison faced. Negative-80 degree weather in Alaska caused him to attempt to climb Denali twice. Then, he weathered snow blindness in one eye while climbing Everest and even lost 25 pounds. 

"I'm on the mountain, and I was in over my head, and I was hungry, I couldn't see. And I didn't know how I was going to get up this super steep mountain, and it gets very treacherous towards the top," said Pattison. "And it was just like … you cannot quit, you got to keep going and only focus on what matters on this particular moment. And, that's the only thing that matters. And, so that is a great example of me tapping into the old Don James way of actually winning championships, getting across the goal line, and being there, you know, in one piece, and you know, for that again, I'm very grateful."

What began in 2013 by summiting Mount Kilimanjaro culminated at the top of the Himalayas last month - a final climb dedicated to his now 22-year-old daughter, Emilia, who has epilepsy. 

"She's had to sacrifice a lot of things: she can’t drive, ride a bike, be on the monkey bars, you know, the things that most little kids do and then evolved to in terms of driving," said Pattison. "She helped propel me … if she can do it, I can do it," he said. 

Along his journey, Pattison raised funds and awareness for people with epilepsy. And whatever comes next, he said he's equipped with a mindset that could benefit us all. 

"It takes a little more to make a champion. And I think it's really easy to for all of us just to kick back and, you know, let life come at us or you can attack life. And it's been my choice to go life full gusto and take on challenges," said Pattison. 

To learn about Pattison's journey and philanthropy, visit his website here


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