The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

77° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Alumna to climb for Africa aid

    The 3 Peaks 3 Weeks 2007 team poses at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. The excursion, which raises money and awareness for HIV/AIDS prevention by climbing Mt. Meru, Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro, is set to go again in 2009, including UA alumna Toni Harris as part of the team.
    The 3 Peaks 3 Weeks 2007 team poses at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. The excursion, which raises money and awareness for HIV/AIDS prevention by climbing Mt. Meru, Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro, is set to go again in 2009, including UA alumna Toni Harris as part of the team.

    As the weather gets hotter and students’ thoughts drift to the summer, a UA alumna is already preparing to climb snow-capped peaks in Africa.

    Former engineering student Toni Harris is one of 14 women participating in the 3 Peaks 3 Weeks Challenge, a mountain-climbing excursion to raise money and awareness for causes in East Africa.

    Starting Jan. 10, the team will spend three weeks climbing Mount Kenya, Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for HIV/AIDS prevention, education and environmental protection in the African nations of Kenya and Tanzania.

    “”Most of the women on the trip have some mountain-climbing experience, but no one has climbed mountains on that scale before,”” Harris said.

    The team spends 12 months raising money for the organizations, then flies to Africa to spend five to seven days reaching each peak, depending on weather conditions, she said.

    Each team member is responsible for funding the costs of the expedition themselves, she said.

    All the money raised goes to three organizations: Support for International Change, a HIV/AIDS organization; The School of St. Jude, a sponsorship-supported English secondary school; and the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, a conservation and wildlife protection organization.

    “”The organizations were chosen because they really embody the spirit of our mission and focus on the areas of East Africa around the mountains we’re climbing,”” Harris said.

    The original 3 Peaks 3 Weeks Challenge, which took place last year, raised over $350,000 for the organizations. The excursion was comprised of 10 women, including UA alumna Laura Hartstone.

    Hartstone said she initially got involved with the project after living in Africa and seeing the difficulties nonprofit charities have in raising money. “”There are so many nonprofits out there, and it’s really hard for a lot of them to raise money,”” Hartstone said. “”The 3 Peaks idea seemed like something a lot of people would latch onto and support.””

    Mount Meru (14,980 feet), Mount Kenya (17,058) and Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340) are some of the highest peaks in Africa. Harris said she’s doing cardio and endurance training to prepare for the climb, and will progress to high-altitude training in Arizona and Colorado as the date of departure gets closer.

    Hartstone said she trained for the challenge by making several hiking and mountain climbing trips in locations including the Grand Canyon, the Inca Trail in Peru, and Humphrey’s Peak, the highest summit in Arizona.

    “”It was challenging, but the hardest part was raising the money,”” Hartstone said. “”Once we got there we all enjoyed it. It was a blast.””

    The original excursion was documented by Serac Adventure Films. “”3 Peaks 3 Weeks”” premiered at the Boulder Film Festival in February 2008 and won the award for “”Best Adventure Film.””

    Harris said she would like to screen the film at the UA at a later date to continue to raise support and awareness for the cause.

    More information on the trip is available at www.3peaks3weeks.org.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search