Arlington resident Heather Burneson had to take life one step at a time after losing a teenage son Henry to leukemia. This took her to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa on “a healing trip,” for her and several family members. Heather Burneson said, "It was a journey, my son’s illness was a journey. We helped each other through it, but it will be a memory we’ll all share for the rest of our lives."
According to the Alexandria Gazette Packet, "Henry Burneson was a hiker and climber too. He was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 16 years old and died from the disease months after that. Heather Burneson struggled. She volunteered at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Alexandria where she eventually got a job as the Senior Manager of Patient and Community Outreach. In the process, she found out about a program they have called “Climb2Cure,” and hatched a plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She built up a team of her husband Eric, Uncle Lee Burneson and his wife Kelly, relative Lisa Papenfuss from Ohio, and her son’s friend Emily Weiss. They trained for five months through a hiking program and set out on the trip on Jan. 24 where they embarked on a 24-hour flight to Kilimanjaro Airport."
As per Alexandria Gazette Packet, "They took the Lemosho Trail which was not the toughest trail, but it was tough enough. It took 6.5 days to get to the top and 1.5 days to get back down. They left the camp at the base of the mountain on Jan. 27 and got to the base camp on Feb. 1. From the base camp, they did the final trek to the top in one hike. Finally, back in the United States, the group knew they’d accomplished a momentous feat and felt Henry was along with them each step of the way. It was a trip and journey that might make a good book, which was mentioned, but “we’re just processing that now,” Burneson said."