Over the years, I have seen hundreds of people climb Kilimanjaro for certain causes. Whether it’s to raise awareness for “Aids/HIV awareness, homelessness, leukemia, cancer research, blindness, Darfur, exploited children, multiple sclerosis, orphans, etc,” I probably read of a new cause every other week. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great thing. People raises money for good causes, the community gets involved, the proceeds go to a good cause, and someone travels half way around the world to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. They hold their sign, t-shirt, at the top of Kilimanjaro, and then begin the journey down. They come home, tell their friends, do slide shows, and present their money to the charity. Everybody is happy and inspired. But all of this took a great amount of work.
Yesterday I received a press release about Bill Barkeley, a guy who suffers from Usher Syndrome, which is taking away his hearing and vision. Bill climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in order to raise proceeds for his project, Hear the World.
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While I know of other blind, deaf people who have climbed Kilimanjaro for similar causes, I was trying to think about what makes this story unique – and I think the real message came out in the interview on ABC news. It’s more a statement about how you “define your own abilities through what do in life.” You can sit around and say you can’t, or you go after those goals and attempt to accomplish them. Watch Bill Barkeley’s interviews on ABC News. This really is the true meaning behind why most people endeavor to climb Africa’s highest moutain. It’s possible, but it’s hard, far away and takes a huge physical commitment.
Now, I bet Bill would even attempt to climb another mountain – Island Peak, Aconcagua? Kilimanjaro is the starting point – the dream accomplishment – but most people come home thinking, “What’s next?”