Keep Climbing: Drift’s Head Of People Operations Scales 69 Flights Of Stairs To Fight Blood Cancer

Keep Climbing: Drift’s Head Of People Operations Scales 69 Flights Of Stairs To Fight Blood Cancer

March 25, 2019

As head of Drift’s People Operations, Whitney Hillis keeps us shipshape. She deftly juggles many of the duties that keep a happy and productive workplace: recruiting and retention, performance management and employee relations, to name just a few. But Hillis doesn’t just put people first during the workweek. In fact, she spent this Sunday helping fight blood cancer — by running up 69 flights of stairs as part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Big Climb Seattle.

Every year, thousands of participants race to the top of the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle to raise money for blood cancer research and patient care.

How does one prepare to run up 788 feet of vertical space? When pressed for details on her training regimen, Hillis admitted she didn’t have one: “Haha … whoops.” No matter. This year, the 29-year-old Washington native completed the race to the top in just 11 minutes 4 seconds, finishing second out of 201 in her division; seventh out of 1,915 for her gender; and 69th overall out of 3,553 total participants.

“The good thing about life (and this climb) is that it’s not merely a series of endless steps,” said Hillis on her donation page for the event. “Occasionally you get (water) breaks, and often times you have breakthroughs (turn corners). There are also times when you are so tired and it is too painful, you feel that you are unable to go on. But if you are open to it, this is when the inspiration comes to climb faster, and work harder, to keep reaching.”  

For Hillis, Big Climb Seattle is personal. For the last three years, she’s dedicated the run to her best friend’s mother and her mother’s best friend, both of whom are now in remission. “I do believe that during their time of diagnosis they experience pain and growth in extremes that I may never understand,” says Hillis. “Life isn’t always easy for any of us, but all I know is wherever we are, we can keep climbing.”  

This year, Hillis raised nearly $2,500, far surpassing her $1,000 goal for the event, which in total has raked in $2,240,460. If you’re interested in contributing, you can do so here.