Congratulations to the African Long Climb (AFLC) team for a successful climb up Mount Kilimanjaro! The 15-member climb team braved ten grueling days of heavy packs and steep inclines to raise more than $64,000 for IGHID.
The project was the culmination of two years of extensive planning, fundraising and physical training by the climb team — and it couldn’t have been a bigger success.
On June 28, the climbers boarded planes from across the United Kingdom and United States and began their journey to summit Africa’s tallest mountain.
Gene Flood, an advisor to IGHID and a member of the climb team, said the experience was extremely difficult, but rewarding.
“What surprised me the most was how challenging the total experience was,” he said. “Generally speaking, any single day on the trip was not exorbitantly taxing. However, the combined eleven days was a serious piece of work.”
The climb team began each day in the early hours of the morning, with wake up times ranging from two to six in the morning. On top of the early mornings and strenuous climbs, the team coped with ailments like nausea, dizziness and low-grade headaches caused by serious altitude changes.
However, Andy Ballou, an AFLC climber from Chappaqua, New York, said the team’s attitude and camaraderie made the physical challenges less daunting.
“I learned that a group of varied personalities can come together quickly behind a common goal — helping everyone reach their physical and mental limits,” Ballou said.
To keep their spirits up during the climb, the group strapped a small boom box to a backpack, and took short dance breaks along the way. This led the guides who directed the climb to comment on the group’s sense of togetherness.
“Unlike most other hikers who walked silently each with his or her own iPod and earphones, our group had conversations dispersed across the group all day as we walked and listened to the DJ of the hour. Our guides commented that they had never seen a group talk with each other so much,” read a blog post from the AFLC Facebook page.
And the conversation was needed, because the climb became increasingly difficult as the team approached the 19,342 foot summit.
“By the third day on the trail – dust had covered every aspect of our beings. Our muscles were beginning to feel the stress of the long days on our feet. And then there was the issue that all of us knew about, but had no real way of anticipating its effect — the altitude,” read another blog post from July 6.
Finally, after six long days of hiking, the AFLC team reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro on July 8, and celebrated with tears, laughter and long awaited photos at the summit.
Flood, who climbed with his son, Earl, said the experience was awe-inspiring, and that he’s already looking on to the next adventure with the AFLC group.
“It was definitely worthwhile,” he said. “We had an amazing outdoor experience together, and we enjoyed each other’s company tremendously. Group members are already talking about what else we might do together.”
Flood said he is incredibly proud of the work the ALFC team has done and of the attention it has brought to IGHID.
“I am thrilled that we brought a good number of first-time donors to the Institute and started broadening the awareness of the Institute’s activities,” he said.
The funds the AFLC team has raised will go to support the Institute’s projects across the globe, such as the IGHID Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Zambia that has screened more than 140,000 women for cervical cancer.
“I view this as a very positive first step to getting the story out about the important work that the Institute has undertaken,” Flood added. “Having just returned from this Kilimanjaro trip, I know a number of us will continue making calls and raising donations for the Institute.”
The team’s fundraising page will be online and accepting donations for the next several months, as they continue to raise money for IGHID.
And on behalf of everyone at IGHID, we would like to thank the AFLC team for all of their hard work over the last several months and their continued fundraising efforts on behalf of global health that impacts thousands across the world. You have all been incredible, and we are extremely grateful.