Pause for the Cause
There are many reasons why people climb Kilimanjaro and some of them have to do with helping ourselves. We hope to test our mental and physical resolve in the hope a successful summit will be a transformative experience. A growing number of climbers are less about ego and more about charity.
Kilimanjaro has become one of the top destinations for charity climbs and everyone from A-list celebs (Jessica Biel, Emile Hirsch) to your neighborhood banker have made the trek to raise money for various causes. It’s a chance for the average person to do something bigger than themselves and Tusker has been a leader in charity climbs since 2001 when it led a group of eight Canadian climbers from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That group raised $80,000 and in the years since, Tusker climbs have raised nearly $13 million to benefit over 77 charities.
The Synergy of Struggle
The logistics are simple. Pick a date and a charity then get in touch with Tusker to organize the climb. Single travelers can join or you can do the climb with a group to benefit your charity. All climbers pay their own way as all money raised goes directly to the charity.
The next Tusker charity climb is on Feb. 7 to benefit Tusker founder Eddie Frank’s charity, Climb for Valor which aids war vets and their survivors. “The reason these charity climb events succeed is because they are symbolic. Kids are fighting disease and they require strength in that struggle. There is synergy in climbing Kilimanjaro as it requires struggle and strength. That’s why it works,” Eddie said.
The climbs raise money but can be life changers for those raising the funds and doing the climb. Many didn’t think they could raise the money or make the summit. When they achieve both it’s a life altering moment. Sometimes there are other fringe benefits. Amy Frank met Eddie on her charity climb for Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in 2004. The 30 team members raised $245,000 and Amy has led several charity climbs for Tusker since.
For Mina Brenneman, raising $5,000 and climbing Kilimanjaro were both huge obstacles. She was a widow with three young children but was driven by the spirit of her deceased husband, David who died of a rare soft tissue cancer.
“We had dreamed about taking on a physical challenge to celebrate the success of his treatment and simultaneously raise awareness and funds for this rare cancer, which receives practically no public attention or funding. After David’s death, I decided to carry out our original plan and attempt to climb Kilimanjaro in August 2014. I summited on Aug. 24, which would have been our 12th wedding anniversary. I know in my heart that David was with me every step of the way.” Mina writes.
Mina has raised over $11,000 for the Sarcoma Foundation of America and is not done yet. “My determination was to finish what David started. Kilimanjaro was just the beginning, so stay tuned for future expeditions.”
Mina found her own invincible spirit and perhaps you can too. There are many charities that need your help, and by helping them you too can find your invincible spirit at the top of the mountain.