As It Happens

This man is 'climbing Mount Denali' for charity — from inside his apartment building

Patrick Swadden is spending his social isolation time climbing a mountain for charity — sort of. 

Patrick Swadden is climbing his stairwell 55 times in one day for a total of 6,160 metres

Patrick Swadden, a journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto, is climbing his apartment building's stairwell 55 times for charity during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Patrick Swadden )
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Patrick Swadden is spending his social isolation time climbing a mountain for charity — sort of. 

Swadden says he's "climbing Mount Denali" to raise money for Partners in Health Canada, which works to bring health care to developing counties and others who need it. And by climbing Mount Denali, he means climbing his Toronto apartment building's 42 accessible storeys 55 times in one day. 

That's 6,160 metres, which is roughly the elevation of the Alaskan Mountain that is North America's highest peak.

"I'm feeling great," Swadden told As It Happens host Carol Off after his 24th ascent on Friday. "I'm a little tired, but I think I've got the energy to get through this."

Swadden is a journalism student at Ryerson University who is working on a story about how the global COVID-19 pandemic is affecting charitable fundraising.

He decided to try some pandemic fundraising himself to kick off the conversation.

He chose Partners in Health specifically because of the impact COVID-19 is having on the health-care system. The Boston-based organization has an office in Toronto.

"They believe in the idea that, you know, we should all have access to health care," he said. "Especially in these times, difficult times like these, that's not always the case."

Mount Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, is the highest mountain peak in North America at 6,190 metres. (Lance King/Getty Images)

Since climbing an actual mountain is out of the question right now, he opted for his usually abandoned stairwell.

"Because we have such a high volume of people using the elevators, every once in a while, I'll just decide to walk up the stairs. I live on the 35th floor. It's nice bit of exercise, and I've almost never encountered anyone," he said.

"I feel like this would have less of an impact than going outside and going for a run."

Swadden says he wants to spark a conversation about how charities can keep fundraising in a period of social isolation. (Submitted by Patrick Swadden )

As of his interview with As It Happens on Friday afternoon, Swadden says he has passed exactly one person on the stairwell, and made sure to give him space.

"I think I was singing as I passed him," he said. "So I hope I at least gave him some entertainment."

Singing is something Swadden's doing a lot of.

Without the beautiful mountain views to keep him occupied, Swadden says he is asking supporters to give him additional challenges in exchange for their donations. 

So far, he's been tasked with singing Mr. Mistoffelees from the musical CATSClimb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music, and Happy Birthday for his girlfriend.

You can put in your own request on his Twitter account, @PSwadden.

"I'm going to be doing Baby Got Back, dancing M.C. Hammer, just whatever," he said. "And the donations are still coming in. So there's there's lots left to do."


Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes. 

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