SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – When Goodwill Manasota Ambassador Nick Altier got his first taste of climbing on the four-sided rock wall at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County facility on Fruitville Road, he probably never envisioned himself taking on the largest mountain in the Alps (and second-highest peak in Europe) down the road. But, in mid-July, that’s exactly what he’ll do and, in the process, he’ll raise funds for Goodwill through pledges made on the organization’s website.
Altier, who was born in Sarasota and has lived here most of his life, works at Brown & Brown Insurance. He caught the climbing bug during open climb nights at the Lee Wetherington Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs at the age of 9 or 10, continuing with outdoor pursuits while growing up and, later, living in Colorado. He has climbed 14ks (mountains of 14,000 feet) previously in Colorado but Mont Blanc will be his first true mountain-climbing experience.
“I have the perfect amount of experience to do this – it’s not a very technical climb,” Altier said. “I’m not jumping straight to Everest or anything.”
He will leave for France on July 14 and start with a three-day, smaller climb on July 18. Next he’ll take on Mont Blanc – all 4,810 meters of it – with a guide and one other climber; this is also a three-day effort. It was his girlfriend, Abigail DeCou, who suggested he make the climb a fundraiser for a good local cause. Altier chose Goodwill and gave its vice president, Veronica Brandon Miller, a call.
Altier attended a Community Ambassador meeting and was impressed by the scope of the organization’s work. Support for Goodwill runs in the family: Altier’s uncle, Steve Altier, is a Goodwill Ambassador who was crowned the king of Goodwill’s Mardi Gras Gala one year for his service to the organization and the community.
“I really like the fact that they employ so many people with disabilities. They’re one of the largest area employers of people with disabilities – that’s huge,” he said. “Goodwill does a lot of good things. I also like the White Glove Service, which helps people who have lost loved ones and don’t have the energy to clean out their homes. I’ve been through that and know how hard it is.”
“We are so fortunate to have supporters like Nick Altier, who take the time to learn about our work and advocate for us throughout the community,” said Miller. “We are honored that he’s sharing his experience of a lifetime with us, and helping to raise funds to support our programs and services. Our hearts will be with him on the mountain!”
To train for the adventure, Altier – who has lost 30 pounds since October – climbs numerous stairwells throughout the city and also treks back and forth over the Ringling Bridge. He trains with an acclimation mask (he says it’s “absolutely miserable to wear”), which restricts his breathing, thus limiting the amount of oxygen he can take in. He says the cold won’t be a problem as he used to live in Vail and Denver and loves the cold.
Altier is grateful to his employer for allowing him the time off to train and travel to Europe.
“We are thrilled to have Nick on the team here at Brown & Brown of Sarasota. At Brown & Brown, we work hard for our clients every day, but we also like to see a balanced life outside of work,” said Rob Wagner, executive vice president. “When you have someone like Nick that performs on a daily basis, and wants to pursue a personal dream while also weaving in a philanthropic component, how could an employer not support him?”
Altier has a fundraising goal of $4,810 – a dollar for every meter he climbs. To make a pledge, go to experiencegoodwill.org, “Donate.” For more information, call (941) 355-2721.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2015, Goodwill Manasota served 22,739 people, placed 961 people in jobs and assisted 358 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 41 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota in essence belongs to this community, and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.