Wauwatosan to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for charity
Local Katie Taylor will climb highest mountain in Africa for Tanzanian orphanage
Katie Taylor is preparing herself for the highest climb of her life. While she's no stranger to mountain summits, this time she's got her eyes set on the tallest peak in Africa: Mt. Kilimanjaro.
She isn't a professional mountain climber or jet-setter looking for a vacation. She's climbing the mountain to raise money for an orphanage run by Make a Difference in Tanzania. She and her sister, Abbie Taylor, will climb the mountain in December.
Taylor and her sister have partnered with FirstGiving.com, a non-profit fundraising site that links people to non-profits and manages the money raised. So far they've raised $835 of their $8,500 goal. The money they raise will go to supplies for the orphanage and they will volunteer at the orphanage for several days before making it back home.
Journey to the idea
This won't be the Taylor sister's first mountain climbed. And it won't be their first time in Africa, nor their first time spent abroad doing charitable work.
Taylor said she got the bug for both adventure and charity from a young age. Her parents always encouraged her to give her time and money at her church, donate her clothes to the Salvation Army and supported their daughters' trip to build homes in Mexico in sixth grade.
It wasn't until five years ago that Taylor decided she wanted to help and visit Africa. She was 19 years old and in college when she said she got what she calls a weird urge to visit and do charity work in Africa. She told her father, who laughed it off, but said his ex-colleague quit her job and was working in a home called Open Arms for Children in Africa.
Taylor emailed her, asking if she could help out at the home. She was told she could and thus spent a semester working hard at a call center, raising money for her trip.
That January, 19-year-old Taylor flew to Africa by herself and spent her entire break helping African children from dawn to dusk.
"I have a huge heart for these kids and I still keep in touch with them," she said. "It was a great experience and I loved it. I still think about it all the time."
While it wasn't her only trip in college, it was definitely Taylor's most memorable. She had also participated in a study abroad program, spending time in France. While she said it was a fun time with memories, something was missing for Taylor: She didn't have a sense of purpose in France and spent the time feeling disconnected from the greater community.
Later in college, a 70-year-old woman came into Taylor's creative writing class. She told the students about how she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and handed out a book on her experience. That's when the idea to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro clicked for Taylor. She told herself if a 70-year-old woman could climb it, then she definitely could.
Preparing for the ascent
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro has been her muse ever since. She's read countless climbing guides and stories of those who made it. She's been training with her sister by climbing 14,000-foot-tall mountains in Colorado. So far the two have climbed three mountains.
The hardest part for the two will be the difference in altitude. The higher the elevation, the lower the oxygen; Mt. Kilimanjaro is 19,344 feet tall, dwarfing the Colorado mountains.
The two are undaunted, however. They've prepared for a longer, slower climb, which will allow the two to hike between five and ten hours a day and rest at camps along the way. They have supplies to help with the sickness that comes in oxygen-poor environments and hope their slow ascent will help them better acclimate to the altitude.
Taylor said she was most nervous about not making it to the top. She added that while it was a personal goal to make it, she was more worried that by failing to reach the top, she'd let down the people who gave money to her cause.
Still, that's not enough to stop her.
"I think life is too short to get hung up in the everyday here and if you haven't had overseas experience you don't know what you're missing," she said.
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