WiSH executive director plans second major climb to benefit education

WiSH Education Foundation Executive Director Amy Daniels trains for her climb to the summit of Gokyo Ri in Nepal at Henry Mayo Newhall Fitness and Health on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. Christina Cox/The Signal
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In March 2019, WiSH Education Foundation Executive Director Amy Daniels will embark on her second major climb across the Himalayas and to the summit of Gokyo Ri in Nepal.

Last year, Daniels climbed to the top of the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro, to benefit Santa Clarita public education, and this time is no different.

“It’s an opportunity for me not only to do the things I like, but also pair it with what I do for a living,” Daniels said. “If I can get support from the community through tax-deductible donations through WiSH, we can help fund the future of our community, our students.”

Daniels is also using this climb to fundraise for the WiSH Foundation and support the needs of local educators throughout the William S. Hart Union High School District.  One hundred percent of the tax-deductible donations made to the climb through WiSHscv.org and amydanielsclimbs.com will benefit local public schools.

“Last time around, we were raising funds for the trip as well, but we’re not doing that this year,” Daniels said. “Every single penny goes to the schools for really, really important things.”

Amy Daniels (left) and Joshua Powers (right) hold up a photo of their University of Vermont hiking team at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. Courtesy of Amy Daniels

These things include raising $100,000 for the Hart district’s high school libraries that have not received state funding since 2008, raising money for special education through the Signal Hoops Tournament and funding concussion testing software at all of the Hart district’s high schools.

“I just got a call (Thursday) that the athletic trainers, which WiSH helps support at all of our high schools. They need concussion testing software and it’s only $8,000 for all the high schools to have it,” Daniels said. “That would be a great goal for this to be able to fund that.”

Although the mission of the Nepal climb is the same as the Kilimanjaro climb, the training Daniels is completing with Henry Mayo Newhall Fitness and Health is 180 degrees different.

“The trainers here have set me up so perfectly so I am so ready for the trips that I take. Since I’ve been here, I’ve met several people that have come here to prepare for big events, they are given the right set of trainers that have the most similar experience,” Daniels said.  “I’ve watched people change dramatically in six weeks.  It’s a great place for that, whether you’re an athlete training for something specific or just someone wanting to get in shape.”

WiSH Education Foundation Executive Director Amy Daniels trains for her climb to the summit of Gokyo Ri in Nepal at Henry Mayo Newhall Fitness and Health on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. Christina Cox/The Signal

To prepare for her own big event, Daniels completes regular workouts with trainers at Henry Mayo Newhall Fitness and Health focused on strengthening her legs, arms and core.

“It’s different every time, which is nice and also helpful,” Daniels said. “If I’m on my own one of the trainers might walk by and hand me a weighted ball or tell me something to do better and that’s the beauty of the place.”

Daniels is also completing three training adventures throughout the year to prepare for the Nepal climb in 2019.  These include a Nordic hut-to-hut in the backcountry of eastern Washington (a snowy cross-country trek made on skis), a trip to the summit of Mount Shasta in June and a 10-day backcountry trip in Glacier National Park in August.

From left to right, WiSH Education Foundation Executive Director Amy Daniels and hiking partner Craig Mabie on their Nordic hut-to-hut trek in Washington in February 2018. Courtesy Photo

Once she completes her training, Daniels will be ready to reach the 17,500-foot summit of Gokyo Ri and traverse the 18,000-foot mountain passes in the Himalayas.

“Although it is a little bit shier than Kilimanjaro, it will be a significantly more difficult climb because it will be very long days of a lot of elevation gain and loss all on snow — so I’m going to need to be in even better shape than I was for Kilimanjaro,” Daniels said.  “I also understand that I’m going to have the most amazing views of Everest and the Himalayas from Gokyo Ri.  I know people who’ve done it and they’ve said it’s extraordinary.”

Daniels will also be completing the climb with her five longtime friends and hiking companions who she has traveled the world with for 38 years.

“This should really challenge all of us because the guys that I backpack with have backpacked all over the world, they’re elite athletes.  I’m extraordinarily fortunate to have friends like them,” Daniels said. “They’re all such remarkable human beings.  With this next climb… it wouldn’t surprise me if all of us did the same thing.  All of us are very involved in our community and we all volunteer.”

WiSH Education Foundation Executive Director Amy Daniels with her climbing team of Ross Nayduch, Joshua “Waz” Powers, Craig Mabie and Roger “Roddy” Lewis. Courtesy of Amy Daniels

Ultimately, Daniels hopes her 2019 climb with her climbing team makes a difference for local students and provides additional support to the WiSH Foundation so it can give all public school teachers what they need to succeed in the classroom.

“I get calls and emails daily from educators around the district who need money for things that are not supported by state funding.  I really want to get to the point where I don’t have to say no to a teacher, I want to be able to say yes every time,” Daniels said.  “I’m hoping to make a difference for all of us.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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