Paul Wouters is 56 years old and in less than two weeks he will be climbing 5,895 metres to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. He has no previous climbing experience.
"The biggest thing is you need to acclimatize to the altitude, which is tough because I can’t prepare for that here," Wouters said.
The aspirational ascent is all in the name of charity. He’s using the climb to raise funds for City Kidz, a local non-profit that provides community activities for local children in need, in memory of his friend Larry Hodgson.
When diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer and only given two years to live, Hodgson decided to dedicate the last years of his life giving back to the Hamilton community. He spent his final days helping run operations at City Kidz in between treatments.
"I was just so humbled by the resolve with which he faced his adversity, and by his courage and his strength," Wouters said.
When Hodgson passed away last spring, Wouters said he wanted to continue his legacy of giving back to the community. When the New Year came around, he decided he had waited long enough and started the plan his campaign.
The goal is to raise one dollar for the charity for every metre of the Tanzanian volcanic mountain. So far, he’s raised about $3,000 for City Kidz.
"There isn’t a penny going to fund my trip, that’s all coming out of my pocket," he explained, adding a local climbing shop, Adventure Attic, has agreed to donate his gear to help cut down on some of the trip’s expenses.
To donate to Wouters' "Kili Klimb for Kidz":
- You can make an online e-transfer to RBC branch/transit # 00742 Account # 5265244 Institution # 003
- Mail a cheque (payable to Paul Wouters Kili for Kidz) 4302 Ingram Common, Burlington ON L7L 0C4
- Contact Paul to arrange a cash donation: 905-635-6329
- City Kidz can provide a tax receipt for donations over $10. Your contact information is required.
As a non-profit, City Kidz relies heavily on fundraisers such as this one, according to Olivia Bronson, the coordinator of fundraising for the organization.
"In our department, fund development, we have to raise $1.5 million per year and there are only three of us here," she said, adding that Wouters’ fundraiser is a bit of a stand-out.
"His is definitely one of the more adventurous, bigger [fundraisers] and it’s extra special that he’s doing it in memory of Larry."
Wouters will be flying out on March 2 and beginning his climb on March 4. In the meantime, he’s been keeping fit by running, hiking and climbing along the Bruce Trail.
Though the climb isn’t a highly-technical one — he’s not going to be hanging off of cliffs — the six day trek to the top is physically-demanding.
He’ll reach the summit on March 10, what would have been Hodgson’s 55th birthday.
"I just know, even though he’s no longer here, he will be so happy."