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Letting Go and Letting Jordan!

Leigh Anne Drake

What would you say if your son told you he was planning to climb Mt. Everest? Would you be able to let go and let him go? That's what Leigh Anne Drake had to decide when her 13-year-old son, Jordan Romero, announced he wanted to become the youngest person ever to climb all of the Seven Summits.

We asked Leigh Anne what convinced her to let Jordan embark on this extraordinary adventure, how she's dealt with being so far away from him, and what impact she thinks climbing has had on her son. Here's what she had to say.

How often do you get to talk to Jordan?
Since Jordan has been gone, we have been able to talk a lot! Many times a week by satellite phone! Sometimes every day, sometimes every couple of days, but the longest we have gone is four days without talking.

What's the hardest part of being away from him?
The hardest part of Jordan being gone is not being able to talk to him and hug him every day! Oh yeah, and the fact that he is climbing Everest which is not the same as Jordan just home and heading to school every day!

What's the thing you're most excited about for him?
What excites me most about what Jordan is doing, is how he is growing and maturing mind, body and spirit! That he is setting goals, not giving up and continues to work each day to reach those goals. The thing about mountain climbing is that, obviously you need to be physically fit, but you have to be mentally and spiritually strong and focused. As we grow and go through life, these elements of mental and spiritual strength are more important character traits to our family than only being physically capable. This focus and determination will make him successful in every endeavor.

How do you reconcile your fear, as a mom, with your desire to support him on this adventure?
I reconcile my fears as a mom by "Letting Go, and Letting Jordan!" I trust Jordan! He has proven to me, at every stage in his life, that he knows what he is capable of. He has never been a kid to take unnecessary risks, one who does things for the attention or approval of others, nor does he do things without giving them much consideration. We thoroughly discuss all elements of life, pros and cons, passions and responsibilities. He is intelligent, thoughtful and brave. My goal in parenting was to parent with love, and towards independent, self-confident, brave, self-sufficient, young people who would eventually become an asset to mankind. Jordan has shown me that because he is reaching his goals, I have succeeded in mine too.

What convinced you to let Jordan climb the Seven Summits?
Jordan set the goal, knowing his family didn't have the financial means to sponsor his trips. He worked hard to raise the money. We just did it one summit at a time and it turned into this! With every summit he was given the option...."Are you done or do you want to keep going?" Even though it was difficult training and lots of fund-raising he chose to keep going!

Do you think what Jordan is doing will have an impact on other kids?
I definitely think that what Jordan is doing will have a positive impact on other children. Mountain climbing put him in the spotlight but now because of that, people are starting to see who Jordan is. He doesn't just tell kids the best way to set goals -- eat well, exercise, be a good son, be a good sibling, grandchild, friend, student or citizen -- he IS all of those things and more. Jordan is a role model in every way. The way he lives his entire life is honorable. He is so down to earth, so approachable and warm. People just can't help but gravitate towards him. When they do they will be guaranteed a smile, positive and inspirational messages.

What do you think climbing offers Jordan? Why is the experience so meaningful for him?
Climbing offers Jordan the opportunity to be one with nature. He has been our nature boy since day one. He loves to push himself to reaching new heights. He has had the opportunity to travel the world, meet people from all over and appreciate what our beautiful planet has to offer. He climbs for himself, he climbs with inspiration from people he has loved and lost. Climbing gives him perspective on the bigger picture of life. He knows that reaching the summit isn't the most important thing in his life. It is that he has a loving home to return to with family and friends he loves and who love him. That to him is the meaning of life, goals and reaching them is great, but the people you share your life with are more important.

Would you ever do a climb with Jordan?
Jordan and I have hiked together his entire life! We do the daily training hikes here at home together. The big ones he does with his dad. Of course I have wanted to go and to be with Jordan on every summit! Unfortunately though, my job and the fact that someone has to stay home with his little sister has not given me that option. She would feel left out! So we are just waiting for Makaela to be old enough to keep up, then we will all do it together! The sweetest story Jordan told me when he got home from Kilimanjaro (his first summit), he said, "Mom. I wasn't 100% happy when I got to the top of Kilimanjaro." I said, "But why buddy? You worked so hard, you reached your goal!" But Jordan finished with, "but you weren't there to share it with me!"

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