My project to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro came about through a happy association with Dreams Take Flight, a charity in Ottawa and Dream Mountains Foundation, an Ottawa organization that connects climbers with 7 charities corresponding to the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on the seven continents.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro had been something of a bucket list notion since I saw an IMAX documentary on Kilimanjaro some years ago. When I was introduced to Shawn Dawson, an Ottawa businessman who established the Dream Mountains Foundation after climbing the Seven Summits, it became a more immediate possibility. After some weeks of considering what was involved and getting medical clearance, I committed in late October 2013 and the endeavour was underway.
Shawn gathered 28 climbers spread out over the seven charities, and due to my prior connection (chairing a Rotary Club fundraiser for them) I chose Dreams Take Flight. Each climber targeted $5,000 in donations for their charity, and was responsible for covering their own costs for the climb. In the end, we raised over $145,000 in total, and my friends and family contributed over $7,500 to my charity.
There were more than a few moments of doubt along the way. I was hardly the person my family and friends expected to climb a mountain. But with their encouragement, especially from my lovely wife Judy, I embarked on 5 months of training and preparation.
By the time I was ready to leave for Africa at the end of April, I was fitter, healthier, considerably lighter and confident that I could succeed. It was a personal transformation I wouldn’t have anticipated six months earlier.