Tag Archives: Climbing Kili for Renfrew

Trick or treat? Our Climbing Kili for a Cause campaign wraps up on Oct. 31st

Before Blake and I went to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro I was invited to appear on Global TV in Calgary to talk about our trip and the reason we were doing it. I re-appeared on Global last weekend as a follow-up to the first interview, to talk about the actual climb (the highlights, the hardest part) and how much money we have raised for Renfrew Educational Services.

Mt. Kilimanjaro looks very far away on Day 2. When the clouds cleared we snapped this picture, our first good view of Kili’s iconic domed summit.

When you appear on TV (totally nervous, especially the first time), you wonder if anyone will watch and, if they do, whether you’ll get your message across successfully (e.g. will every person in Calgary donate money to Renfrew Educational Services?). There’s really no way to know, which is why it’s always nice to get viewer feedback. This e-mail (edited and excerpted, below) arrived in my in-box shortly after my appearance and made me feel like it’s all been worthwhile:

“I just saw your Global TV story, and was promted to write to you to say congratulations to both you and your husband for your efforts to help Renfrew Educational Services.

My daughter attended the main campus of Renfrew in the N.E. for two years, she too was special needs.  She suffered from a very rare neurological condition, which left her wheelchair bound and although she struggled with fine motor and gross motor skills she LOVED going to school on the bus everyday.  I agree with all you said, about the teachers, the aides and the support teams there for speech and other therapies…simply incredible people who helped her in so many ways. I will never forget all they did for her and for our family.

Sadly, she passed when she was just four and a half, but not many days go by where I don’t see a school bus and think of her joy and excitement of going to school each day.  I commend you for your efforts and just wanted to let you know how grateful many will be for your efforts which will be helpful to so many other families.”

Of course I know our fundraising campaign has been worthwhile and successful — we’ve raised $7,470, passing our goal! — but this e-mail still made me cry. I know it can be hard for parents of “typical” kids to understand how great a school like Renfrew is for “special” kids like my Bennett. So to hear it from someone who has been there, literally, really hit home.

Renfrew recently asked me to write a story for their semi-annual magazine about our Kili climb and fundraising campaign. I wrote:

“I think the short-term challenge of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was small compared to the life-long mountain of challenges and obstacles that face parents raising children with special needs.

Making it to the top of Kili filled me with a feeling of, “I did it!” It was inspiring — it made me wonder what else I’m capable of doing. Raising Bennett? I now know, thanks in part to Renfrew, I can do this.”

My hope is that other families with children at Renfrew will feel like they can do it, that they’re not alone in a world that becomes harder to navigate when your child has special needs. And of course my other hope is that Renfrew will continue doing what it does best — helping kids soar — thanks to donations like those we received during our four-month-long campaign.

Our Climbing Kili for a Cause fundraising campaign officially wraps up on Oct. 31st, so if you’re feeling generous…

Thank you! Asante sana!

We made it! (Kilimanjaro? Hakuna Matata!)

I write this from Arusha, Tanzania with the exciting news that Blake and I made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania!

We made it! Woot!

No words can describe the craziness of hiking five hours uphill in the dark, with a small circle of headlamp illuminating the steep, rocky path, nor the excitement of reaching Stella Point and knowing that the summit awaited just a 45 minute walk farther. When we reached the top (6:15 a.m., Sept. 21st) I was  so happy and elated I almost cried (but I think my tears would have frozen from the wind chill!). It was beautiful! And such a hard slog, for a worthy cause (latest tally: $7,070 raised for Renfrew Educational Services!)

I credit our amazing guides from Climb Kili with helping us get acclimatized and make it to the top. Truly an amazing journey. Asante sana!

Jambo, jambo bwana

Habari gani

Nzuri sana

Wageni, mwakari bishwa

Kilimanjaro, hakuna matata!

Mt. Kilimanjaro? Bring it on!

If I’m not ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro by now, I’d say it’s too late. Blake and I leave tomorrow to fly 14,000 kilometres around the world to Tanzania. The morning after we arrive we begin an eight-day trek that will take us to the top of Africa’s tallest mountain.

Striking a pose at Lake Agnes, above Lake Louise. Kili? Bring it on!

We’re climbing Kili to celebrate 15 years of marriage and also to raise money for our son Bennett’s special needs school. So far we’ve raised $6,895 (thanks everyone!), surpassing our goal of $5,895 (5,895 is the height of the Mt. Kilimanjaro in metres).

In the past three months during “training” I’ve taken nearly 1-million steps, walked 700 kilometres and trekked up the equivalent of 3,545 flights of stairs. On my best day I ascended 3,900 feet (1,188 metres), basically the elevation between our final camp on Kili and the summit. I’ve also had sore muscles, an on-again/off-again achy knee (currently ache-free, woot!) and exactly one blister (from a pair of fashion shoes, not my Raichle hikers).

Training for this trip has been highly motivating. I’ve been keen to walk more, climb more and hike more. Blake and I have done some amazing day hikes on our own and with the kids and it’s helped me rediscover the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

Here’s the highlight reel…

Best View: Lake Louise from the top of the Big Beehive. Sept. 8, 2012. It was actually hot at Lake Louise.

From this height (2,270 metres), Lake Louise is, in a word, stunning. Or as my friend commented, “Bombay Sapphire blue.”

Most Rewarding: the Polar Peak loop, which included a ridge walk and navigating a rocky outcrop with a cable. We even saw a boy moose! Aug., 5, 2012.

The view from up where they blast avalanches all winter = sublime. And it was a beautiful 30C day too — with no wind!

Best for Kids: Tamarack Trail at Island Lake. It has enough elevation gain for adults, with cool distractions for kiddos (a stream, a rockslide and a view). Aug. 6, 2012.


Most Rewarding: Mt. Fernie. Its 1,188 metres of elevation (322 flights of stairs!) kicked my soft behind. I was sore for four days after, but it jump-started my muscle memory. June 30, 2012.

Our first summit of the summer. Yes, I really like that hiking outfit!

The climb up Kili and views from the top will be completely different than those above. I can hardly wait!