That’s how tall Mt. Kilimanjaro is. Located near the eastern coast of Africa, it’s the highest free-standing mountain in the world. And this summer I’m going to climb it.
I’ve never climbed a mountain before. Never even thought about it, really. I did some pretty aggressive hiking a couple of years ago out west where the elevation’s a bit higher than here in the flatlands, but that’s the extent of my experience. Now I’m doing one-legged squats, breathing through a straw, and my living room looks like a personal trainer moved in.
Why am I doing this? Cancer.
A few months ago I asked to interview Jason Sissel about his foundation, Endure To Cure. He’s raising money for pediatric cancer research by performing a series of physical endurance activities. In addition to competing in several Ironman competitions and biking coast to coast, he’s also climbing the Seven Summits, the tallest peaks on each continent. About an hour into the interview he invited me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with him.
“Yes,” I said. I didn’t hesitate; I didn’t doubt; I don’t think I even blinked.
Two weeks from tomorrow I’ll be 39 years old. I share my birthday with my grandmother, who passed from cancer less than two years ago. My grandfather on the other side suffered from various illnesses for over a decade, but the disease that finally claimed him was cancer. My other grandmother, his wife, is a breast cancer survivor. The first funeral I ever went to was my step-Aunt’s, who died from ovarian cancer.
Now I have an opportunity to help fight this nasty beast, and so do you. I’ll be doing the hard work (seriously, have you ever tried breathing through a straw? And I don’t mean one of those big fat McDonald’s straws. I mean the skinny ones you get in a bag of 100 at Walgreens.).
All I ask of you is that you spread the word and donate what you can. I know money’s tight, but every little bit helps. $15, $1, $5 – it adds up. My goal is to raise a minimum of $5,000 before we leave on July 3, so please tell everyone you know!
I also need corporate sponsors, so if you or someone you know is interested in helping out and earning lots of karma points and media exposure, please let me know.
I’ll be blogging about everything from training to getting a gazilion immunization shots to the actual climb itself, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, please donate here.