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Of all the goals I had on my bucket list, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was at the very top.

Mount Kilimanjaro

How could I have dreamed I’d get the chance to make the climb as part of the job I love?

Next week, I’ll travel to Tanzania and begin scaling the 19,000-foot peak, documenting the fundraising journey of several special Heifer supporters. I’ll be doing my best to keep up with them, and you can keep up with me via Twitter and Facebook.

Kilimanjaro climbers Brendan and Randy Bagg
Kilimanjaro climbers Brendan and Randy Bagg

The climbers are employees of Elanco Animal Health, one of Heifer’s most loyal corporate backers. Heifer gets strong support from Elanco (funding projects that help thousands of families globally) as well as from its big-hearted individual employees. They must be dedicated, if they’re climbing the tallest peak on the African continent.

Mt. Kilimanjaro was on Randy Bagg’s bucket list, too. He’s a veterinarian and regulatory manager with Elanco in Canada, and seems thrilled to be climbing with his son, Brendan. I’ll tell you more about my fellow climbers in updates from Tanzania.

I fully expect the climb to be extremely difficult. It’s not so much the physical exertion as the altitude: it can turn an extremely fit person into a nauseated, hyperventilating mess, even at rest. Harrowing accounts of other people’s climbs aren’t helping me psychologically.

Kilimanjaro fundraiser supplies

Kilimanjaro is a grand and gorgeous mountain. The first documented summit occurred in 1889. Its highest peak, dubbed “Kaiser Wilhelm Peak” by Westerners, was re-named “Uhuru Peak” after the Swahili word for freedom in 1961 when Tanzania gained independence. The top of the mountain features a broad caldera, which was once covered by ice. But in the last 100 years, 80 percent of the ice cover has disappeared from Kilimanjaro.

My packing is underway, and fundraising for Heifer is progressing, too. If all goes well, we’ll be standing at the top of a continent on October 1st.


Kelly MacNeil