Yes, it’s true – Blake and I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania on Sept. 21 at 6:15 a.m.!
Climbing Kili was an amazing way to celebrate 15 years of marriage (read more about the trek in another blog post). As a bonus we raised $7,595 for our son’s special needs school, Renfrew Educational Services. The original goal was to raise $5,895 – $1 for every metre of Kili, from sea level to the summit — but when we passed that target over the summer we aimed higher. The money raised will go toward specialized services, equipment and toys for children attending the school.
Here’s more about our story:
The Climb: Mt.Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest mountain in Africa at 19,340 feet (5,895 metres). Though not a technical ascent, the climb is physically and mentally challenging because of the high altitude. My husband Blake and I will begin our adventure on September 15 and, if everything goes as planned, reach the summit on September 21, 2012.
Many people would never choose to spend their anniversary trekking at altitude in a foreign country, but Blake and I have dreamed of climbing this mountain together. We met while travelling in Europe and have since trekked together in Nepal, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, and spent many weekends exploring alpine trails in the Canadian Rockies.
This adventure has long been on our bucket list, so we’re climbing it for our own personal reasons, but also for a good cause.
Our son Bennett is a beautiful and affectionate boy. He also has autism as well as a genetic condition called 18q-. He is missing a small piece from one of his 18th chromosomes and a result he has struggled to reach milestones like crawling, walking, talking and toilet training. He also has a hard time with traditional play and peer interaction. We have been fortunate to have him enrolled in preschool at Renfrew Educational Services in Calgary for the past two years. He will also be attending kindergarten at Renfrew this fall.
When Bennett started preschool at age three he was basically non-verbal, with poor social, play and gross motor skills, and severely delayed fine motor skills. With help from his teachers and aides, and the therapists at Renfrew, Bennett is now talking, playing with school friends and making huge strides with both gross motor and fine motor tasks. We strongly believe lots of love, encouragement and help from home and the Renfrew team have helped Bennett “soar” in the past two years.
With five centres in Calgary, Renfrew offers a broad range of specialized programs and is an acknowledged leader in program development for children with all kinds of special needs. It’s also known for preschool programs where typically developing children play and learn alongside children with special needs (like in Bennett’s classroom).
Though Alberta Education covers much of the day-to-day operations in the classroom, that support does not cover the cost of buildings, buses and other capital needs, or the cost of developing programs and services. In other words, Renfrew relies on donations to help it reach its full potential — just like Bennett relies on Renfrew to help him reach his.
Blake and I hope to raise $1 per metre of the climb, for a total of $5,895 or more to go to Renfrew schools so other kids like Bennett can continue to hit new milestones. Please help us reach our goal!
~ Lisa & Blake