Thirteen Edmontonians have returned from a life-changing journey that they didn’t do for themselves, but for families being treated at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
On Oct. 4, the group embarked on the Summit for Stollery by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It’s the highest mountain in Africa, with a summit about 4,900 metres from its base and 5,895 metres above sea level.
With thousands of feet to climb over a number of days already a being a challenge, cold and wet weather made it even harder. Altitude sickness was also a big risk.
One person had to stop climbing due to medical reasons.
“It was way harder than what we were lead to believe,” Kevin George said.
George is a member of the hospital foundation’s board and when he was asked to go on the climb it made sense. He had two infant daughters that passed away at the Stollery: Maddie in 2012 and Everly in 2015.
“Half way through it was my first daughter’s birthday on the climb. So that was a pretty special moment where we all sat in the mess tent and we celebrated her birthday,” George said.
George said when he first started the climb it was a way to honour his daughters, but as the days went on he began to think of others.
“It morphed into being for everyone I know. So it was about my sons, my wife and my friends.”
George raised close to $70,000. The group as a whole raised more than $1 million. On Tuesday, a celebration was held to mark their accomplishments.
Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation president Mike House decided to take on the challenge as well.
“To actually have an experience where I struggled personally, both physically and mentally, to get past an obstacle and the perspective of what families are going through everyday — really crystallized why it’s so important to give back,” House said.
“Everyday someone is climbing a mountain — whether it’s at the hospital, with their health, or family member. I felt so connected to them in a way I never felt before.”