Christina Ochs is climbing Mount Everest and raising $15,000 to support CASA of Cook County.
Christina has been hooked on mountain climbing since she summitted Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011. Climbing Mount Everest wasn’t even on her bucket list when she was invited to join the Mount Everest North Side Rapid Ascent Expedition this spring. Christina was honored by the invitation and excited to climb on a team made up of numerous women climbers, including two of the seven women who have summitted Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. Women make up less than 10 percent of the climbers who have summitted Mount Everest.
The 35-day expedition—and hopefully summit—of Mount Everest began on April 20, 2019, but Christina and her team members have been training for months. The Rapid Ascent Expedition requires pre-acclimatization using hypoxic training, spending weeks breathing in oxygen-reduced air while sleeping. Christina has also been running 70-80 miles per week as part of her training—this from someone who didn’t like running even a few miles when she first met her husband!
Christina serves on the Executive Board of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Cook County and is thrilled to bring together her love of mountain climbing and her passion for helping children who have experienced abuse and neglect by raising funds for CASA through her expedition. Her mother, Maria Ochs, started volunteering for the organization six years ago, and it was her enthusiasm for the work of CASA that brought Christina to the Board. “CASA is an amazing organization that surprisingly few people have heard of,” says Christina. Through her expedition she is raising awareness in a big way!
There are currently more than 5,600 child victims of abuse and/or neglect in Cook County who are under the protective care of the Illinois state child welfare system. CASA of Cook County works tirelessly to diminish the challenges faced by children in foster care by providing them with their own highly trained advocate. In an overburdened and under-resourced foster care system, CASA of Cook County and its volunteer advocates make a real impact on those most at-risk in the system. They help ensure children leave the system and find safe, permanent homes. CASA volunteers, like Maria Ochs and hundreds of others, sit outside the complexity of the system in order to focus on and advocate for the best interests of the children they serve. National studies have shown that children assigned a CASA volunteer receive more services, spend less time in the system, are more likely to succeed in school, and are less likely to reenter the child welfare system than their peers without volunteer advocates. Furthermore, one year of CASA advocacy costs less than one month of foster care while having a tremendous impact on the child, both in the present and future.