Ease is Overrated
Why climb Kilimanjaro for charity?
At 19,340 ft, hiking to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro is achievable – but just barely so. The ascent to high altitude affects each person in a profoundly – and unpredictably – different way; many of the people who climb Kilimanjaro describe it as one of the most difficult challenges of their life. Pair this with statistics (from the Kilimanjaro National Park) that report a summit success rate of only 45%, and it’s no wonder that Kilimanjaro looms large in the imagination of even the most intrepid of travelers.
Without a doubt, it’s easier to bake brownies or plan a car wash than it is to climb Kilimanjaro for charity. But ease is often overrated, and a climb up Africa’s tallest peak is simply more inspiring than baking brownies.
A climb up Africa’s tallest peak is far more difficult than an average fundraiser, but it’s also far more rewarding. Those who climb Kilimanjaro – and especially those who do it for charity – are bona fide adventurers. Who wouldn’t want to get behind a worthy cause and cheer their friends or family to the top?
Chris Bredt, a lawyer from Toronto, Canada, just finished his second climb up Kilimanjaro. Not only did he climb all the way to the summit of that massive mountain (twice!), but he also led a team that raised over $180,000 for charity on the most recent climb. If there’s anyone that can prove the worth of such a fundraiser, it’s Chris.
One Man, One Movement, One Mountain
Chris Bredt is the former Chair (and current supporter) of CODE, a Canadian charity that works with local organizations in developing countries to implement programs that empower children to learn how to read and write. The foundational belief of the organization is that children who can read and write can learn to do anything. CODE advocates literacy as a means for development and runs programs worldwide, including literacy programs in Tanzania, the home of Kilimanjaro.
CODE’s programs have won the attention of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)— which leverages CODE’s public fundraising efforts at a ratio of 3:1 up to a set limit. . Furthermore, CODE has been the recipient of three UNESCO International Literacy Prizes, all of which were won for different programs.
As Chair, Bredt was constantly challenged to suggest new ways for CODE to raise money and sustain its programs. After hearing the epic stories of a friend who had recently returned from Kilimanjaro, Bredt began brainstorming.
In 2005, Bredt began planning for CODE’s first Kilimanjaro fundraising climb. Bredt understood that pulling the climb off successfully was a big undertaking, but as he began pitching the idea to co-workers, friends and family, Bredt realized that Kilimanjaro is on the bucket list of many people. What else was on everyone’s bucket list? Giving something back.
In the West We Throw Books Out, In Africa They Wear Books Out
But with so many worthy causes out there, the question bears asking, why literacy? Pose this question to Bredt and you will get a clear and direct answer: Education is key to the development of the developing world.
As Bredt says, “Investing in human capital continues to pay dividends throughout the person’s life.” Meaning that the more “capital” invested in a person, the higher the “return” will be for humanity. Put plainly: mathematicians, engineers, teachers and judges – the people that make our world a better place – all had to first be given the opportunity to learn. CODE operates with the belief that given the chance to learn, children in developing countries will produce stunning results.
Logistics of a Kilimanjaro Fundraiser
Organizing the fundraiser was a big project on its own. First, there was the task of choosing a guiding company, and Bredt was thorough in his choice. After extensive online research, Chris selected Tusker Trail to lead the climb, basing his decision on Tusker’s unparalleled medical training and past experience with guiding charity climbs. As Chris puts it, “On a charity climb, it is especially important that all the climbers feel safe; these are often people who are not accustomed to climbing mountains. So the safety factor with Tusker was huge.”
Now that Bredt had decided on the idea and the company, the next step was to round up a team. He started sending mass emails out 18-months before the climb, but while Chris found it easy to pique interest, he found it difficult to reign in an actual commitment from most people. However, interest in the climb slowly grew, and Bredt was able to assemble a team of climbers.
In 2006, CODE’s first charity climb took place. Seven team members made it successfully to the summit and raised a total of $110,000 for CODE literacy programs.
After the first climb, Bredt’s enthusiasm for using Kilimanjaro as a fundraiser grew, and so did his personal desire to climb it again. Bredt wanted to do the climb again, and this time he wanted to go even bigger.
Go Big or Stay Home
In 2009, Bredt began to mobilize a new team, using his knowledge from the first climb to make CODE’s second charity trek even more successful than its first.
To begin, Bredt doubled the size of the team. He recruited five lawyers that he worked with, as well as seven other Canadian professionals, and in July of 2010, 13 stalwart adventurers headed up Kilimanjaro as members of CODE’s second fundraising climb. The entire group was rewarded for their hard work when each team member stood on top of Uhuru Point, Kilimanjaro’s summit.
Not only did all thirteen climbers make it to the summit, they also raised almost twice as much money than they had hoped for -their original goal was set at $100,000 and as of October 8th 2010, the team had raised a staggering $182, 810, and the donations are still rolling in. That is money that will be used to support libraries and teacher training as well as national book publishing. And much of the money raised on CODE’s charity climbs will go to the programs that CODE operates in Tanzania.
With their successes piling up, the question left is: Will there be a third CODE climb in the future? Chris Bredt hopes so. He has, in fact, already started planning Climb for CODE 2014.
When you accomplish something outstanding, people want to get behind your cause and help you succeed. Conquering a mountain while also conquering a cause inspires people to push the boundaries, think outside the box, and pitch in.
Follow Bredt’s lead: pick a cause, cajole a group of friends, raise thousands for charity, and have the adventure of your lifetime. The trekking professionals at Tusker Trail are ready whenever you are.
For more information about CODE Canada and the good work they do, check out their website: http://www.codecan.org