ITS, LETS SAY, difficult to get Strange to open up about what climbing means to him, to get him to draw a picture of those moments when he first summits. But thats typical at 17, right? Fortunately, that age comes with plenty of idealism.
In Stranges case, idealism has been stoked by interaction with people from around the world. His time with the porters on Tanzanias Mount Kilimanjaro, which he climbed with his mom when he was 14, has stayed with him. Between climbing moments, Strange would hang out with the porters, playing Hacky Sack and talking. One porter wondered aloud to Strange, [Are you] going to turn out like the rest of the people like where youre from and just forget about us? The teens answer? I told him that Id never forget the experiences Ive had and the people Ive met, and so Im never going to be like anybody else. Besides, my last names Strange, so kind of weird, anyway.
In Africa, I will be forever known as Johnnys mom, says Wells. I went back a year or two later with my oldest daughter and still, all the porters and the guides [were like], Oh, Johnnys mom! Johnnys mom!
Strange is dogged in his determination to discuss the issues that have grabbed hold of him. Atop Everest, at a moment of accomplishment that warrants something akin to Leonardo DiCaprios king of the world Titanic line or a photo of the climber pumping his fist triumphantly into the air, Strange pulled out a handwritten sign that said, simply, Stop genocide. He left it on top of the mountain along with another reminding people about Parkinsons disease, which a friends father lives with.
Im cracking up because Im seeing him in all these interviews and he always manages to get [word of his causes] in, says Wells, who adds that Strange has always been the most sensitive of her three kids.
Brian Strange says his sons desire to spread the word about his causes is part of the reason he hired a publicist to tout his sons achievement. Its an opportunity for him to talk about the issues that are important to him and also, as a youth, to be able to bring attention to what you can do as part of the youth movement, which is important to him too.
For now, Stranges next goal, or at least, the one hell talk about, is finishing high school and getting into college. Although Wells worries about her son because he really has that sense of invincibility right now, as most young men do, she wants nothing more for him (aside from a college degree) than a life of adventure.