Paul Magelli


By the time he was 45 years old, Paul Magelli had suffered and survived three heart attacks. When his identical twin brother died of a heart attack at 45, Paul began to live a life of fear.

Today, he’s 85 and while he still suffers from heart disease, he’s no longer living a life of fear — he’s living a bold life with bold plans.

He’s volunteered himself to test the effects of heart disease and aging — on top of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain! The Heart Climb teams Paul with researchers from the Mayo Clinic who want to study human adaptation to oxygen deprivation, lung fluid regulation, and cardiac changes at altitude.

Growing Bolder spoke with Paul about his decision to sign up for a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro, something he’s unsuccessfully attempted before. If he’s successful this time, he’ll become the oldest person to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

He passionately explains why life is about taking calculated risks and big moments. He’ll inspire you to chase your dreams, even ones that terrify you.

Since we conducted this interview, there’s been a major update to the story. In July 2016, in the midst of his training, Paul learned he he had two bad heart valves and he had to undergo cardiac bypass surgery and valve replacement. But his passion for the project remains.

“This is a tough one, but my vision has not changed, and I am going down this path so I may yet be able to summit this mountain after I get my revitalized ‘super’ heart back in condition,” he wrote on The Heart Climb site. “The project and study remains a passion of mine and the climb team. Our hope is to leverage the experience of this year’s climb to continue the study with a smaller, limited team within a year post surgery. While initially devastating news to me, it is in the end, a part of the reason that many of us are in fact climbing. It is a challenge and a test of our character, resilience and desire and something that brings excitement to life.”