In less than one year, WiSH Foundation Executive Director Amy Daniels will make the 11-day trek to and from the peak of Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro.
She is making the trip to the top of the highest free-standing mountain in the world to benefit Santa Clarita public education and the WiSH Foundation.
“I knew needed to do something big for WiSH,” Daniels said. “I took a look at what my skills are and the biggest thing I do outside of work is backpack all over the world.”
The 10-month training with Henry Mayo Fitness and Health and the constant fundraising are all to bring awareness to financial gaps at local schools and to raise money for education.
“I feel like every community needs a strong district foundation,” she said. “The most successful school districts have successful school foundations.”
But in order to make the trip and raise the funds for WiSH, Daniels needs both monetary and emotional support to get to Mt. Kilimanjaro and complete the expedition.
For the emotional and physical support, Daniels is hoping to bring along her four hiking partners—Ross Nayduch, Joshua “Waz” Powers, Craig Mabie and Roger “Roddy” Lewis—who she has completed equally challenging climbs and expeditions with for more than 35 years.
“These guys are giving me physical and emotional support… I rely on them to make that journey,” Daniels said. “They’ve also saved my life a few times in the back-country.”
The five lifelong friends met while attending college at the University of Vermont, where they bonded over their mutual love of mountaineering and exploring.
Throughout the years, the hiking team has explored Camel’s Hump in Vermont, Mt. Marcy in New York, Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, the Alps, the Canadian Rockies, the Grand Canyon and more.
“They’re extraordinary human beings. They’re all individually the most amazing people I’ve ever known,” Daniels said. “They have taught me lessons that I think about almost every single day; they’ve completely shaped my life decisions by being who they are.”
Powers, an education advocate, professor and administrator, was the first to sign on with the trip.
“He was especially inspired that I am raising funds for public education,” Daniels said. “He understands the value of a great education.”
Lewis, Mabie, Nayduch and Powers are also all philanthropists so they understand and support Daniels’ desire to raise funds for education, Daniels said.
“We all met through education so it means a lot that they’re supporting me in this effort,” Daniels said. “I can exponentially help WiSH by involving these guys from all over the country.”
The hiking team will be sharing Daniels’ fundraising site, www.amydanielsclimbs.com, and links to the WiSH Foundation donation page with their friends and families, so the expedition’s mission reaches audiences nationwide.
However, for Daniels and her team to complete the expedition she will need community backing and monetary support to cover expedition expenses.
“Unless I make the trip, I’m not going to make the funds for local public education,” Daniels said.
To help finance a trip of this magnitude, Daniels created a GoFundMe campaign, www.gofundme.com/amydanielsclimbs, to shelter some of the expedition costs.
“I’ve never done a GoFundMe before and it’s a brand new avenue of funding,” Daniels said. “It’s an effort on my part to be transparent and make sure no funds are comingled.”
The fundraising goal is currently set at $250,000 because Daniels said she was unsure of exactly how much the trip, travel and gear will cost.
“Anything in excess in funding will be donated back to WiSH,” she said.
To obtain the infrastructure for the expedition, Daniels hopes to solidify the trip plans by the end of January.
With her yearlong training and efforts Daniels hopes to dramatically impact the foundation and improve public education district-wide.
“All those funds are going to make a difference for WiSH,” she said.
Daniels’ training and expedition efforts can be followed on Twitter and Facebook at amydclimbs, as well as on her website, amydanielsclimbs.com.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_