For Karen Simpson, it is a 50th birthday present to herself. For her late father, Frank, it is a gift to the Alzheimer Society of Canada that will live on in his name. On Tuesday, Sept. 18, Karen, her husband Jeff Bauer and her sister Alison Simpson will begin the climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, while at the same time raising money for Alzheimer’s research.
“My sister’s really been the inspiration,” said Alison. “She’s turning 50 this year and she wanted something to shoot for and encourage her to get back into shape and she set this goal for herself.”
But a loftier goal was to raise money for the debilitating brain disease that claimed Karen’s and Alison’s father in 2003 after a 10-year battle. They began their fundraising just three weeks ago with a goal of $5,000. They have already raised $4,500.
“We decided to use the trip to raise money for a cause that’s close to our hearts,” said Alison.
The three have been training for the last several months in preparation for the climb. Alison is a marathon runner so her training involves a lot of running, cross-training, cardio and inner core strength. Karen and Jeff have been doing a lot of hiking, and have been getting intensive training at a local boot camp.
“They’ve been doing boot camp three mornings a week from 5:30 to 7,” said Alison. “That’s been their main form of training. They also made a trip to Colorado in August to see how they would react to altitude.” The summit of Kilimanjaro is at 19,340 feet, equivalent in height to the base camp of Mount Everest. The trio plan to scale Kilimanjaro’s summit, Uhuru Peak, on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Waiting back in Canada will be the women’s mother who is excited that her daughters are doing this in their dad’s name, but also a bit worried.
“She’s a bit nervous about her only two daughters climbing a mountain,” said Alison. “Any mom’s going to worry about safety. Even though we’ve been adults for a very long time, she’s still our mom and still worries about us.”
Alison is happy to be able to take this journey with her sister and brother-in-law.
“They asked if I wanted to join them and I thought what a great life experience to share with them,” said Alison. “So the three of us are going to go conquer a mountain, hopefully.”
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