Friday, December 6, 2013

We did it!

What an amazing adventure we had!  Larry, Bill and Mark summited around 7:15am Friday local time with Margie and Scott following about twenty minutes later.  The above photo was taken as the first group descending met up with the second group still summiting.  From the left, our head guide, Caspar, Larry, Bill, Scott, Margie and Mark.  The odds were that only three of us would summit, but we are made of tougher stuff than that.  But we would all agree that this was one of the hardest things we have ever done, both physically and mentally.
Bill, Assistant Guide Joseph, Larry and Mark at the summit.
Margie and Scott at the summit.
The five of us now have a bond that time won't dull.
We have updated the photo album to the right with 100's of photos that the five of us took while in Africa. 

The day after returning from the mountain, it was time to build the playground!  We decided to complete the build in one day to surprise the children of the Stella Maris School as they came to school on Monday morning.  Yet another once in a lifetime experience - to be standing on the playground and being overtaken by a sea of bright blue uniforms as the kids played for the first time. 

Later that day we visiting the O'Brien School for the Maasai to view the location of the second playground we purchased and sent to Africa.  This will be built in January after it arrives in country.  We were given the opportunity to experience Maasai culture up close and personal. 

After all official business was done, we took two days to play - a two day safari!  We spend a day at Tarangire, a good sized park located just to the south of Lake Manyara in northern Tanzania before moving onto Ngorongoro Crater.  The Ngorongoro Highlands is a dramatic range of volcanic mountains that straddles the rift valley escarpment immediately to the south of the Serengeti.  Wild life was so common, it was like going to a park here and seeing squirrels and ducks.

Until next time Tanzania!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Edge of a cliff

Its amazing to watch these clouds roll directly into us. As we sit on the edge of a cliff at 14,000 ft. 
Today was a challenge. We climbed from 12,000 to camp at 14,000 through steep ascents and over large boulders. 
Camp is by far the most beautiful that we have stayed at with a little pond only feet away from our tents and a picturesque view of Mawenzi peak.  We look forward to the last push to base camp for our final ascent to the summit.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day four

Day four about to start and the weather should be about the same as yesterday - sunny and warm until around lunchtime and then cloudy in the afternoon then raining at night.

The food has been amazing. There are a couple picky eaters in the group and they are finding plenty to eat. 

So far the days are following the same pattern. Breakfast at seven. Get moving at eight. Hike three to five hours. Eat lunch in the camp for the day then rest for a couple of hours the hike up for a thousand feet them back down camp for dinner. Bed around eight. 

Yesterday acclimation hike was particularly hard for Margie who was really tired from the last three days of hiking. She only made it to the top of the ridge because of generosity of her companions.  

Cell Service!

We are having the experience of our lives. We are doing well and taking it all in. Writing this from day three camp at 12,030 feet.  

We have to keep this short, we are connecting through a cell tower in Kenya so the photos will be low res and we will add narration when we get back.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Getting ready to climb!

Watch this site - soon we will be posting the links to track us live while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro!  We also hope to post lots of photos and maybe some video! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Can you help?

Almost a year ago, Ken Smith, father, brother-in-law, uncle, friend, mentor, died after a long battle with cancer.  Ken was only 49.  He lived his life large – both in stature and attitude.  His personal motto was “go big or go home” and he truly lived it each and every day.  He spent large parts of his free time working on his various philanthropic efforts including Gateway for Cancer Research and the Boy Scouts of America just to name two.  During his many hospital stays during the time he was in treatment, Ken had to opportunity to get to know many of the staff at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  One person in particular is Teri Dreher, an intensive care nurse at CTCA.  Teri is the Co-Founder and president of Hands and Hearts International, Inc., (Hands and Hearts International, Inc. is an IRS designated 501(c)(3) charity) and works to improve rural health care and alleviate poverty in southeastern Africa.  During many late nights in the hospital, Ken and Teri would discuss her organization and Ken would give his input on “going big”.  Unfortunately Ken never had the chance to participant in any of her ongoing missions or was able to help her raise funds for these projects.  But we can help in his stead and we are “going big” to honor Ken. 

On November 15 to November 29 of this year, with a group of fellow “going big” team mates, we am going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,342 feet) in Ken’s name.  Kilimanjaro was as big as we could get in Africa!  The climb itself is a seven day event; five and a half days up and a day and a half down.  After our week climb, we are going to work with the Mailisita Foundation in Moshi, Tanzania.  The Mailisita Foundation was created to develop a financially self-sustaining Education Center to serve the needs of a growing orphan population in rural Tanzania.  The educational center (including a revenue generating guesthouse) sits at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.  While an area of great natural beauty, the Kilimanjaro region is seeing the early stages of a major AIDS epidemic.  Our objective is to provide hope and a future for the area’s children orphaned by this growing crisis.  We will work in medical, educational and entrepreneurial training capacities in locations around the community.  In particular, our team will purchase, transport and build a playground for the children that attend the Mailisita Education Center and purchase soybean processing equipment for the foundation so the orphans who attend the Education Center can have their lunches supplemented with the protein from soymilk and soybread. 

So what are we asking from you?  There are a couple of things you can do.  The first is, come along!  We have a couple of spaces open for the climb.  A donation of $3,800 will cover your airfare, hotel, climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro and food, as well as visas and travel insurance.  Make a non-refundable deposit of $200 to secure your position on the team and reserve your air ticket.  Checks should be made out to Hands and Hearts International, Inc. and are tax deductible.  More details are on the Hands and Heart International, Inc. website. 

If climbing a mountain is not on your bucket list, we are seeking donations for the trip and climb along with the extras - the playground and soybean equipment so we would like to personally raise $40,000.  All donations over $75.00 will receive a letter from Hands and Hearts International, Inc. for tax purposes.  There are a couple of ways to donate.  Write a check to Hands and Hearts International, Inc. and mail it to 416 West Golf Rd, Libertyville, IL  60048 or give it to a Kenny's Climb member and we will bring it to our next mission meeting.  Or you can donate via PayPal at:  Hands and Hearts. 

This will be a huge challenge for me but the rewards will be bountiful.  We look forward to conquering this with your help. So let’s do it!