It was just 12 short days that I was in Tanzania but at the end of it I felt as though I had run 12 marathons. Many people have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Many people have written about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. And while the physically gruelling nature of the climb was a challenge to overcome….that is not why i found myself so depleted of energy. You see, this trip wasn’t about climbing a mountain. It wasn’t about visiting a foreign land. It was about saying goodbye to one of the most inspirational men in my life. My dad.
I made the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro when an Inspired Adventure Rep returned my call the day after my dad passed away. It might seem impulsive to some, and to be honest, it was completely out of character for me to commit to something so willingly, but i couldn’t say no. This climb represented the first international charity fundraiser for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, the very disease that had just taken my fathers life. And it was scheduled to depart on his birthday. Call it fate, or destiny, but whatever the case it seemed more than coincidence that our universes had collided.
Fast forward 12 months and i have just spent the last week hiking through arid plains of Kilimanjaro National Park, spent the last 6 hours climbing through the night, and up 1000 metres, to reach to the top at sunrise. To say it was emotional would be an understatement. Standing there I realised I was going to have to let him go and with it all of the moments we never got to share - walking me down the aisle, seeing me become a mother, finishing my Phd. The enormity of this loss was draining, and the remaining days in Tanzania were a blur.
While the SAVE A MAN Challenge was aptly named, I still look back on the whole experience with great pride. I take solace in the fact that the $60K that we raised may help to prevent another father from dying and I guess I am glad that my dad got such an awe-inspiring farewell. Only a mountain like Kilimanjaro could match the size of his heart.