To donate to the Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising campaign click here

To track the climbers progress click here

For daily pictures click here

Tracking code, for both pages, is “WISA x 12


Alaska hike Branz Cervantes


Several of us climbed Kilimanjaro in 2013. It’s not one of the highest peaks in the world, but at 19,341 feet, it is the highest on the African continent.  The days were long, some were 10+ hours. We’ve done longer days, but not for 8 in a row.  We summited on day 6.  We wore ME STRONG shirts when we summitted on day 6.   Altitude sickness started somewhere over 17,000 feet.  In additon to the physical exhaustion, you start feeling sick, no appetite and an unbearable headache.  The thought of moving is a chore, let alone throwing on a pack and actually going uphill at a snail’s pace. It’s hard to see let alone focus.  In the midst of feeling sick you actually feel yourself losing it. The problem is that the options are slim:  keep going or turn around, the thought of going that far to turn around just doesn’t make sense, but at least there is a choice.

I’ve thought about people diagnosed with and living with cancer. It probably feels worse and there are way less choices. You just live with it, carrying a pack and going uphill all day every day hoping that whatever you’re doing cures it.  My family and I like to walk uphill whenever we get a chance. None of my family knows this, but I think about that every time we climb or hike something.  The weight is always heavy and the terrain is always tough and steep. People ask how I feel and I think, “Pretty good. I’m lucky. I don’t have cancer.” We get to choose to do what we do and for that I am grateful.

In June we have chosen to do it again and I am more grateful that we get to take our entire family for this experience. There will be 12 of us and everyone has agreed dedicate the trek to ME STRONG. The organization is our favorite. It helps those who don’t have a choice. They help entire families to take some of the pressure off because they lack the choices we get without even acknowledging that we have them. The women who founded ME STRONG have chosen to do something fantastic. Our goal is to get 12 of us, ages 10 to 60 something up to 19,341 feet and raise $1 for each of those feet. My goal is that at least 19,341 people see this and decide to each give at least one dollar. Please give a dollar (or more) to ME STRONG and track us on our way up.   We will publish how to track us before the climb.

-Matt Branz