Connecting with my Climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro

On October 17, 2012 I stood on the roof of Africa. It was an incredible feeling watching the sunrise over the clouds and Mawenzi Peak below as a vicious wind ripped over the summit. When we arrived everyone, climbers and guides, stood together for a team hug and embraced a moment we had been visualizing for months. From there we took the time to take in our surroundings, captured the memory on film, and unleashed the messages we had carried on our backs as our Flags of Hope were swept up in the gusts. We had achieved our goal and so much more.

My Three Goals

My first goal was to raise $5,000 for BC Children’s Hospital. Having not been in Canada for four years and the fact three of my friends were undertaking this climb with me, I thought $5,000 was a reasonable goal but would require some imaginative fundraising. A few days after being home my donation total sits at just over $9,600. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of those in my community. My network of friends and family here and overseas were very supportive, my colleagues in West Vancouver and beyond generously contributed to the cause, and Ridgeview Elementary fully engaged in making the school fundraising a tremendous success through participation in our school-wide initiatives. Overall, our Summits of Hope team raised over $100,000 for BC Children’s Hospital. A staggering figure we are all very proud to be part of.

My other two goals involved inspiring others and spurring initiative amongst the students to make their own difference. I wrote at length on each of these goals in a previous post, Taking Action for a Cause. Returning home the students have enthusiastically welcomed me back, told me that they heard my daily announcements on the PA (and that I sounded tired) and are demonstrating their inquiring minds by asking heaps of fantastic questions.

Making Connections

One of the most amazing aspects of my climb was how it resonated with others. Through the Flags of Hope, students, parents, family, friends and strangers shared their experiences with Children’s Hospital, sent messages for loved ones, personal mantras and best wishes. I was truly touched by the sentiments on the Flags of Hope and proudly carried them on my back each day until the words were released from the summit at sunrise, into the African winds.

A surprise to me was the connections I made with other schools who followed my journey to the mountain and trek to the top. It was fantastic to go impact my local community and share the experience on a global level. With the permission of the writers, here are a few of the connections people made with my climb.

Dear Craig,

I am a teacher at Sentinel Secondary and unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the volleyball tournament this past Friday. I hope that it was a great success. On Thursday, I happened to be visiting my son’s friend, ———, at Children’s hospital. It was the first time for us to see him since he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and it was heartbreaking in many ways. After playing together for a while, we were all invited to a separate playroom where a “Mountain of Toys” awaited. Several team members from Summits of Hope Kilamanjaro and Machu Pichu were there to greet us. They were very passionate and dedicated. My two boys (—– and —–) as well as —— signed the flag that will accompany you on your climb. I just wanted to let you know that I was really touched by the work that you and Summits of Hope are doing. Please keep ——– in your thoughts as you climb, he is the strongest and bravest 4 year old that I have ever met.

West Vancouver School District / Ridgeview Elementary

I am extremely grateful to Michelle LaBounty, Chris Kennedy and Dave Eberwein for allowing me to take advantage of the opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I am very fortunate to work in a school district that is open to allowing its educators to pursue life experiences and has the foresight to recognize the positive affect it would have on students.

As for my school, overwhelmingly, the Ridgeview family was the greatest supporter of my climb. Staff, students and families enthusiastically contributed to all of the fundraising initiatives from the Flags of Hope to our coin drive. For a Vice-Principal who has only been at the school for one year, I was greatly touched by the generosity of our school community.

It has been wonderful five months raising donations for BC Children’s Hospital, sharing my story and preparing for the climb of a lifetime. I will never forget the experience or the people that helped me to make it happen.

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