Jonathon's Closet

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Father Set High Goals to Memorialize Son

This past summer John stood on Jerimoth Hill, the highest summit in the state of Rhode Island. His summer trip to New England took him to the highest mountain summits in four other states as well; Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. John’s goal is to reach the highest summit of all fifty states. Rhode Island marked state number thirty. His quest started almost five years ago and has taken him from Maine to California.

On December 10, 2001, John’s life was changed forever. His 17 year old son Ezra, a senior at Rockford High School, national honor society student, Eagle Scout, lifeguard, and rugby player was killed during a traffic accident on his way to school. “Ezra died five days before my birthday, eleven days before his eighteenth birthday, and fifteen days before Christmas”, John recounts. “I was emotionally, spiritually, and physically devastated.” For weeks John was not able to work, eat or sleep. He knew he could not go on like this, and decided he needed a goal in life. One day while looking at a road atlas he noticed that each state was marked with its highest point. That day he set a personal goal to climb to the highest point in each state in memory of his son; After all, Ezra was always up to a challenge.

Ezra was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age and had to work twice as hard as most students. Despite his disability he was a high school honor roll student and the top student in an aviation technology program at the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids. He took on the challenge of becoming an Eagle Scout and earned Scoutings highest honor. John’s decision to climb the highpoint in each state was a big turning point in getting back his life back on track.

Not all his summit treks have gone smoothly. Near the highpoint of Michigan he buried his Jeep up to the bumpers in mud. In North Carolina he ruined two tires when he hit a log in the road after a hurricane had blown through. A winter ascent of Mount Marcy in New York resulted in ripping the flesh off his heels after walking over 15 miles with crampons on his boots to reach the summit. The ascent of Mount Whitney in California resulted in windburn on his face from a snowstorm combined with severe sunburn from the sun reflecting off the snow.

Each highpoint is as unique and varied as the geography of the United States. Some highpoints are as easy as driving up to the highpoint and walking a few yards. Others involve strenuous rugged mountain treks requiring camping at base camps to reach summits 12,000 to 20,000 feet above sea level. Highpoints tend to have one thing in common; they are usually located in some of the most remote areas of their state. “Some of the views from the highpoints have been absolutely spectacular”, shares John. Each time he reaches a state summit it has been a spiritual experience.

And he has learned that life is not about how many breaths you take, but living for those moments that take your breath away.


  • How Awesome! What a way to honor a son that sounds like he truly was a Great Kid! Such a tragedy; it sounds like he had a wonderful life and was on his way to even bigger things.
    Wishing John lots of luck with the next 20 states!

    By Blogger Julie, at 1:29 PM  

  • Sounds to me like Ezra climbs every step with John. What a great way to honor him.

    By Blogger Lemon Stand, at 5:08 PM  

  • What a spectacular way to honor his son, and how sad to have lost him at this time of year and so close to his birthday. I'm with Julie - Good luck on the next 20 states!

    By Blogger Mindi, at 3:02 AM  

  • That's beautiful. Thanks for returning when blogger cooperates to share the photos.

    By Anonymous Sandy, at 3:54 AM  

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