A 51-year-old Barrie woman with a heart condition has returned from Tanzania after climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the local charity Youth Haven, an organization that supports homeless kids.
“I’ve done tonnes of outdoor activities, and tonnes of times I pushed myself to my limits, but this was beyond anything I could’ve comprehended,” said Debra Bobechko.
“It’s not a mountain to be trifled with.”
The single mother of two began her climb on Aug. 23 and descended the mountain on Aug. 30.
Bobechko recalls one point during the hike at the Barranco Wall, a cliff on the way up to Mount Kilimanjaro, when one of the porters helping her group almost fell to his death.
“That was a defining moment for me,” she said. “It’s not just what it takes to do Kilimanjaro yourself personally, mentally, physically, emotionally, but the people who put their lives on the line to help you get there.”
At another point during the climb, Bobechko said, there was a rock in front of her that was about 18 inches high.
“I just dropped my head and I looked at it,” she said. “Tears were just freely flowing down my face. I was so tired, and I was cold, and I was thirsty. I looked up at that rock, and I had nothing left in me.”
After that, one the guides that Bobechko was with took her backpack so that she could climb further up the mountain.
Bobechko said her heart did well during the climb, aside from the descent.
“I had some difficulty — the doctor did increase my meds to help with that, when we did our last push,” she added.
Bobechko said she had constant support during the climb.
“That’s why I align with Youth Haven as well, too, because that’s what gets these kids through stuff,” she said.
“It’s the people that are surrounding them, that are believing in them and standing up for them. That’s what gets them going and gets their lives back on track.”
While Bobechko didn’t reach her fundraising goal of $19,340 for Youth Haven, she said the charity is still accepting donations.
“We never know what’s out there to help us until we reach out,” she finished.