Hopeful Adventures

Barbara Hillary’s mother moved from South Carolina to New York City to give her and her sister better-educated opportunities. Her father died when she was only one year old. Her mother cleaned homes and strongly encouraged her daughters to get a good education. Barbara’s favorite book, Robinson Crusoe, inspired her interest in adventure.

Barbara earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in gerontology from the New School. She entered the nursing field after graduation and had a career that spanned 55 years. In her 20s as her career was getting started, she was treated for breast cancer.

After her nursing career was over, she decided to fulfill her hopes for adventure that had remained dormant since she was a child. She started with a dog sledding trip to Quebec followed by a photography

When she discovered that no black woman had ever visited the North Pole, she decided to make this her next adventure. She had to learn how to cross-country ski as well as build her resistance. She was able to achieve her hope, and at the age of 75, became one of the oldest persons to make it to the North Pole.

Of course, once you visit the North Pole, you have to visit the South Pole. She accomplished that hope at the age of 79. Both of her polar visits stimulated Barbara’s concern for climate change. She became an inspirational speaker bringing awareness of the devastating impact on polar ice caps.

Barbara’s achievements are even more noteworthy given her medical history. Prior to her polar excursions, she had surgery for lung cancer which reduced her lung capacity by 25%. Barbara eventually passed away at the age of 88.

Hope knows no limits if the determination is there to achieve one’s hopes. After a career of 55 years, Barbara began a second career focused on hopes inspired by her childhood. Hope can remain within us forever if we let it.

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“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experiences to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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