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Scaling Kilimanjaro to Support Make-A-Wish

I am Brenna Ashby, a member of the Hopedale High School class of 2017 and a current University of Connecticut sophomore majoring in Digital Media Design. As a UCONN student, I have tried to be involved in community activities. One is a Mount Kilimanjaro fundraiser designed to raise $7000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is very special to me. My brother was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004 and he was granted a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World, so I experienced first-hand what a huge difference they can make. This trip allowed us to experience what

we hadn't been able to in years; what it's like to be a regular family without the thought of cancer looming over you.

Make-A-Wish provided my family with an incredible opportunity, and now I have been provided an incredible opportunity to pay them back. My goal is to raise $7000 for Make-A- Wish through their partnership with Choose-a-Challenge. As a full time student, allocating the time for fundraising is difficult but I have been able to make a good start through a campus bake sale and bottle and can drive. I continue to explore new opportunities for fundraising including

Fundraising is only the beginning of my challenge. Mount Kilimanjaro is a 19,000 ft tall snow and ice covered mountain in the heart of Africa. The climb is unique since its begins in tropical heat and ascends to oxygen-deprived, artic-like conditions. The six straight days of climbing range from two-hour warmup hike on the day one to a grueling 19-hour hike on the last. Hikers also have to endure lack of oxygen.

Up to 60 percent of those attempting the climb fail, altitude sickness being among the lead cause. It is hard to train for this sickness, caused by lower oxygen at higher altitudes. As part of my conditioning, I have begun regular cardio and weight training at UConn,

as well as rock climbing wall training. I am also taking advantage of the UConn Outing Club as frequently as I can by participating in climbing activities on local peaks like Mount Washington.

Although I hope to accomplish both goals—raising the $7000 and completing the climb

– my primary goal is raising the money for Make-A-Wish. I know what it meant for my family, and I want to do what I can to ensure that other families have that same opportunity. If I am able to complete both challenges, I will have taken part in a once in a lifetime opportunity. If I am able to stay calm and focused, I am positive that I will be able to take on this mountain! I hope to share even more about my journey as the trip comes closer, and I am even more excited to share what happens after it is completed.


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