INDIANAPOLIS — When Indiana native Michael Prage was stationed in Japan back in 1999, he and a few friends ventured up to the top of Mount Fuji.
"Absolutely it changed my life," Michael Prage recalls. "Being that high and being able to look over."
Prage said he was inspired and, from that point on, he was hooked. Over the last two decades, he's continued to climb, and he's always had his sights set on Mount Everest.
"My father died a couple years ago, unexpectedly. At that moment is when I realized how fast life could be gone. I knew if I didn't do it now at my age, I was never gonna get there,” Prage said.
So next April, Prage will set out on his journey to conquer Everest and he’s been training hard.
"On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I do 20-mile ruck marches. I carry about 50-60 pounds in my ruck. Tuesdays and Thursdays and sometimes weekends, I go run and I get anywhere from 20-30 miles on a run,” Prage said.
On Saturday Jan. 29, he plans to test himself — doing a Mount Everest stair challenge on the Soldiers & Sailors Monument downtown.
"It's gonna be about 100,000 steps up and down. From what I can figure, it’s gonna take me about 19 hours, maybe more," Prage said.
But Prage isn’t just doing this for himself. He entered the foster care system as a baby and was adopted by Stanley and Linda Prage when he was two years old.
"I’m very grateful for what I was given.”
It changed his life for the better and he wants to give back. So, for every step Prage takes this weekend, he’s also raising money for Children’s Bureau Inc. and Families First. All of the donations go back to the cause.
”They need all the help they can get, whether it be, you know, money or families coming in looking at adoptions," Prage said. "The state of Indiana right now has 13,000-plus children in the foster care system. So any little thing that I can do to help is something I hold close to me because I know what that’s like.”
Once in their shoes, he’s now using his shoes to make a difference.
"Being able to show other children you can accomplish anything you want as long as you have commitment.”
Next year it’s Mount Everest, but first, Prage is set to conquer the Circle while helping to change lives on the way up. Prage plans to begin his climb at 6 a.m. and keep going until it is complete.