The 8,848 meter tip of Mount Everest is a far cry from the relatively flat plains of northern Indiana. It was probably an even further cry from the thought of then early-20s Tommy Danger. But as it happens, fate will often take you further than you ever dreamed.
Danger began his personal journey while setting up a 5K in his small town to raise money for a 14-year-old girl with cancer. She ultimately ended up losing her life, leaving Danger to wonder how this young girl could be taken away, while he remained as healthy as he had ever been. That pondering began a trek, beginning with a cross-country bike ride and ending with a mountain peak—with a little weed throw in too.
In Tommy’s own words:
In 2007, I rode my bike from Newport Beach, California to Boston, Massachusetts to raise awareness and funds to help at-risk teens. Through the two months, I would stop and speak to over 10,000 students about my struggle with being overweight and then anorexia. I would encourage them to live their dreams, like I was finally doing at the age of 25. I remember clearly finishing the bike ride with my friends whom were riding with me, and as we reached the Atlantic, we would jump into the late October frigid waters in celebration. I would bust through the surface gasping for my breath and then ask, “What’s NEXT!”
Over the next couple of years, I planned the More Than Just Miles Project, where I would run from Seattle, Washington to Daytona Beach, Florida. I knew I wanted it to be more than just an adventure and link it to a cause. I didn’t know what cause until I heard from my close friend that her son was born with cystic fibrosis. I had no idea what this even meant, and until I met little Ethan, I thought he was wheelchair bound and would need assistance from his parents for the remainder of his life. I learned quickly that this was not true—yet people had no idea what CF entailed.
I would finish MTJMiles in 2013 on Ethan’s 4th birthday on the beaches of Daytona running 3,191 miles in six and half months. Before I could even finish the last day, which consisted of 100 straight miles, I was already planning the next adventure.
That next adventure would be his biggest yet: climbing the Seven Summits, or the highest peak on each of the seven continents, with zero alpine experience. Not only that, but he was going to do so with medicinal marijuana, furthering two causes at once.
As Tommy describes it, himself and avid cannabis user friends John Burkett and Mark Nolan, “would attempt to climb the highest peak on each continent to shine an even brighter light on CF, while [also] filming a documentary about the mountains and how they relate to having cystic fibrosis.”
And so began their current project, More Than Just Mountains.
Cystic fibrosis can be a complicated disease to understand, but Tommy makes it simple by describing it like one of his mountain climbs. As he climbs, there’s less oxygen to breathe, but when coming back to lower elevation, he’s able to get more oxygen. People with cystic fibrosis are constantly stuck near the top of that mountain, lacking the oxygen they need.
Danger noted the negative reaction he generally saw towards weed while growing up and hopes that his journey shows people can use weed medicinally and responsibly in place of substances like opioids.
“I am a huge advocate of medicinal marijuana, and try to stay knowledgeable on it so I can explain how it benefits those in pain or who are suffering from different ailments,” he said. “Growing up in the Midwest, cannabis is often looked at in a negative way due to the lack of knowledge of the plant and people who consume it. I’m trying to show that people who use cannabis are actually creating controls or cures [for their pains], without becoming addicted to opioids or other pharmaceuticals.”
Danger even says his preferred brand, Jetty Extracts, helps with the climb itself: high elevation makes you subconsciously less hungry and thirsty, and cannabis helps give an appetite.
In one way, the journey might not even be possible without cannabis: “I am an avid user of Jetty’s Mind Tricks on the mountains. The cannabis-infused toffee allows me to grind through constant pain I have with my knees, as I have a torn ACL from 10 years ago that still hasn’t been fixed surgically.”
Climbing the Seven Summits is far from easy, and at the end of the day, it can be easy for people to get a slightly skewed aspect of the actual process—it’s a lot more than just climbing a mountain. For example, in the most recent episode of their video series on “More Than Just Me TV,” they get caught in the middle of a tribal war.
“I sometimes don’t think people see all that goes into climbing and filming one of these epic peaks,” Danger said. “The behind-the-scenes is really three dudes carrying a shit ton of gear, which makes these adventures a little harder because we know we might have to stop to get shots or record when we are exhausted. However, we know it is very important to film because it shows the world what we encounter and our feelings during these encounters. “
What can be next for a man who’s already done so much?
Fatherhood is currently taking up his time, but he knows he can’t stay still for long—though this time, there’s more to think about.
“My wife knows that this itch won’t ever go away for me and that I must continue to scratch it,” Tommy explained. “She just hopes that I will take into consideration the risk and to pick my battles with the thought our family in mind, which I plan on doing.”
To learn more about More Than Just Me and how you can help fight against cystic fibrosis, visit their website at https://www.mtjm.org.