ConnectWise Partners Saving the World: Rex Frank, Sea-Level Operations

| By: Craig Fulton

At ConnectWise, we value our extraordinary partners who make a point to go above and beyond to help their communities, and the world. In this next installment of our new series, Partners Saving the World, we want to highlight Rex Frank of Sea-Level Operations for his work raising money for Footprints of Fight, an organization dedicated to aiding families in the midst of dealing with pediatric cancer.

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About Sea-Level Operations and Rex Frank

Sea-Level Operations coaches business management teams on bringing operational excellence to their MSP businesses. Their Senior Coaches will work with business teams through all 5 phases of implementing operational policy and procedure. Sea-Level Operations creates accountability for business staff to be working “On the Business”.

Rex Frank is President and CEO of Sea-Level Operations, LLC. He founded the company in 2010, embracing his purpose to “Coach IT Managed Service Providers on achieving operational excellence.” While Rex spends about half of his time coaching clients, he loves helping the community every chance he can get.

How Rex Is Contributing to a Better World

While Rex dabbled in backpacking over the past few years, he had never attempted any kind of serious "mountain climbing"—that is, until he heard about the Mt. Rainier Climb for a Cause, benefitting Footprints of Fight. He knew this challenge would push him WAY outside of his comfort zone, but with a drive and determination to do something that would really help families and children in need, he made the choice to go ALL IN.

From that moment on, he started spending more time in the gym than he ever had, and he found himself becoming very well-acquainted with the stair climber machine. He began driving up to the mountains as often as he could to hike trails that were steeper and longer than he had ever trekked, and he continued to add more and more weight in his backpack with each journey. Rex says, “They tell me it’s called "training". I'm not sure that's the word I'd use, but I know that my "training" is nothing compared to what the families I'm supporting are enduring.” After months of training, it was time for the climb.

Fighting Childhood Cancer With the Spirit of Adventure

For the Mt. Rainer Climb for a Cause, they had two teams—the Summit Team of 16 climbers attempting to make it to the summit and 14,410 feet, and the Muir Team of 13 climbers setting to meet the Summit Team at Camp Muir (10,000 feet) on their way back down. In addition to paying individual climbing fees, the Summit Team committed to fundraising at least $2000 and the Muir Team committed to at least $1000 for Footprints of Fight. Rex was a part of the Summit Team.

From training together in the gym to hiking progressively longer and steeper trails around the Cascade mountain range together, members of the Summit Team joined forces to build up their strength for the cause. Rex was able to connect with several climbers from around the country on his team, including David and Marlene Manion from CW Technology in Duluth, MN, as well as Gray and Maelee Mabry from iVenture Solutions in Jacksonville, FL. These climbers didn’t just share a passion for making a difference in the community—they discovered at the climb that they are all ConnectWise IT Nation members as well!

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Rex and his team learned some advanced climbing skills in mountaineering school, such as how to use their ice axes for “self-arrest” and “group-arrest”—how to stop themselves from sliding down the glacier if they slipped—and how to be roped together while climbing the more dangerous upper mountain. With packed bags and an early lights out, the team was prepared for the journey ahead.

Thursday was the big day—Camp Muir Day! After a quick breakfast, the team hiked 4 miles up the mountain from 5,000 feet at Paradise to 10,000 feet at Camp Muir, about half of which was a snowfield. Rex says, “The day was beautiful. We could see the top of the mountain and looking out we could see as far as your eye could see. The rest of the world seemed so far away.”

From there, they had to wait. All 16 of the climbers were crammed into a small plywood shack, stacked 5 wide and 3 high. The plan was to get some sleep before the guides came to get them later in the evening, and they would have 60 minutes to be completely geared up and ready for the final push up the remaining 4,410 feet to the summit on Friday morning. But as darkness fell, the team could hear the winds picking up, which was not a good sign for their Summit climb.

The guides came in at 1:30 AM with the bad news—the summit was experiencing sustained winds of 65MPH and gusts to 80 MPH, making the conditions unsafe for climbers. Rex says, “I brought my IT Nation T-Shirt to get a picture on the Summit, but the best I could manage was a picture at Camp Muir.” Although disappointed, the team understood that safety had to come first and rejoiced in the knowledge that helping the families in need was really what was most important.

On the way back down, the team trekked through inclement weather conditions with their visibility cut down to around 20 feet at times with the combination of snow and freezing rain, but they managed to keep in good spirits knowing the difference they were making in the lives of families dealing with the unimaginable. After about 30 minutes of descending, they ran into the Muir Team. They were cold and wet, but also in good spirits. Team Muir turned around and joined Team Summit, without attaining their goal of reaching Camp Muir.

Once they made it back down the mountain, both teams were able to meet several of the families that the Climb for a Cause supports. Although neither team met their altitude goal due to the poor weather conditions, they far surpassed their fundraising goals, making their journeys well worth it. In all, the Summit Team raised $48,656 for an average of $3,035 per person, and the Muir Team raised $26,168 for an average of $2,013 per person, amounting to a total amount fundraised of $75,479, which will help Footprints of Fight support an estimated 35-40 families with pediatric cancer!

Children are the Future

In addition to Rex’s philanthropic hiking ventures, he also enjoys giving back by supporting the Community School Backpack event in Greeley, Colorado through charitable donations. Rex’s Sea-Level Operations business partner Ken Sponsler also supports the cause by volunteering his time at this event every year for the past 6 years. It takes a lot of sponsors and volunteers to stuff 4,000 backpacks with school supplies and get them in the hands of students—but with people who care like Rex and his associates at Sea-Level Operations, our ConnectWise partners can make a big difference in the community.