This is part of the story:
You might be wondering to yourself why in the world someone with zero trekking experience would willingly choose to spend 10 days in freezing temperatures, climbing a colossal mountain in Africa.
This year I had back-to-back surgeries to remove some unwanted and potentially dangerous growths. It turned out to be nothing more than a scare. I’m fine, blessed with a clean bill of health. But the experience woke something that had fallen dormant deep inside of me. It was a wake-up call to live fully and to live now. It was then that I heard about the Kilimanjaro climb and the rooftop of Africa called out to me, I felt certain that this challenge and the goal of supporting the efforts of Shalva was the next right thing for me.
Soon after I committed to doing the climb, I went to visit Shalva and had the opportunity to meet with some of the children they work with. I felt an instant solidarity and kinship. When I climb Kilimanjaro and things get tough, as they are bound to, I will be thinking of the children of Shalva bravely soldiering the mountains that have been strewn upon their paths. These children truly are warriors, battling obstacles and hurdles every moment of their lives. As I spent time with them, I realized that they are not all that different from any of us. Everyone bears the scars of the various challenges he or she has had to contend with along the way. We might not get to choose our challenges, they are the cards we are dealt, but how we play the hand, that is where a person’s character is built, that is where hope and belief and fortitude make all the difference, where with bravery and grace we can strap those challenges on our shoulders and get on with our lives. The Shalva staff, along with hundreds of volunteers, are an army of positivity and light, reaching out to the children and their families and imparting the message that although things are difficult there is still hope, there is always hope. Shalva’s services are free of charge and provide life-changing support to help these children not just cope with their disabilities but learn how to grow and thrive.
I am not fully recovered from my surgeries, not in the best physical shape, but I have six months to get stronger and a stubborn redhead streak that seems to be wildly pumped for this challenge. I am thrilled at the idea of Kilimanjaro, but I am also terrified. Since deciding to do this, I have had days where I have wanted to call the whole thing off, the climb and everything, the whole living larger thing – and just go back to my quiet safe little corner where no chances were taken. But I can’t. I just can’t. A light has gone on inside of me and I am simply unable to ignore it.
It is my sincere hope that the funds raised to sponsor my climb will make a real difference in the lives of the children of Shalva.