Heather Moyse has beaten the fastest bobsledders and endured jarring hits from the world's best rugby players, but it took just one hug and five words on the side of mountain in Antarctica to bring her to her knees.
"He said, 'Thank you for doing this,' his voice cracked, he was crying," said the two-time gold medalist, who is now recovering from her first — successful — attempt to climb a mountain.
"Are you kidding, like how on earth are you thanking me?" she responded. "I just pulled him back into a hug."
Jeremy Blair isn't a fellow Olympian or world class rugby player. He's a soldier based at CFB Petawawa who joined Moyse for the True Patriot Love Foundation climb of the highest peak in Antarctica, Vinson Massif.
Blair was part of a team of nine soldiers to make the trip. All served overseas and many are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder.
Moyse was one of 18 civilians who took on the climb to help raise funds to help members of the military deal with the illness and transition back to life outside the forces.
"It's just mind blowing when you know they've gone through that, and then the spirit that they still have," Moyse said.
As she prepares to return to Canada, Moyse said she has learned the country is missing a great opportunity.
"Society is definitely not only selling them short, but selling ourselves short by not reaching out and trying to figure out exactly what skills these soldiers are bringing back and how we can utilize them."
Not all of the climbers made it to the top of Vinson Massif. The weather turned bad on the day of the climb — in fact at the top of mountain there was barely a view, Moyse recalls.
Despite all of her accomplishments, Moyse said, the climb was one of the toughest things she's ever done, but helping to raise $2.2.million to help soldiers like Jeremy Blair was worth it.
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