Wednesday, September 24, 2014

U.S. Rotarians Climb Kilimanjaro to Eliminate Polio

Earlier this month, a team of climbers representing Rotary Clubs from all over the U.S. launched a charity climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa in an effort to raise funds for the End Polio Now foundation. The group hopes to raise as much as $300,000 through their efforts, with the goal of stamping out polio worldwide once and for all.

The group climbed Kili, the tallest mountain in Africa at 19,340 ft (5895 meters), along the Rongai Route a few weeks back. They were led by guides from Zara Tanzania Adventures, including American Macon Dunnagan, who was making his 35th ascent of the mountain. It took the nine climbers six days to reach the summit, along a path that is known for being one of the less used, and more difficult routes to take to the summit.

This Kilimanjaro climb has become somewhat of a tradition over the past few years. Members of the Rotary Club have undertaken treks to the summit in both 2012 and 2013. Two  years ago, their efforts allowed them to raise $106,000 for the End Polio Now fund. This year, they have set their sights much higher, and they expect to reach their goal, even though the climb is over.

Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. The dormant volcano draws thousands of adventurous travelers each year, as the climb is a non-technical one that mostly involves acclimatizing to the altitude, and trekking to the summit over  6 or 7 days. For many, it is a good introduction to hiking in rough terrain at altitude, which could lead to similar adventures elsewhere in the world, such as the Himalaya or the Andes.

I want to congratulate the Rotary team on achieving one of their goals by reaching the summit. They continue working towards their other goal, which is raising funds to stamp out polio across the globe. Certainly another worthy cause.

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