Countdown to Summit.
This week I leave for my fourth Conquering Kili trip with a class of decorated military veterans and current and past teammates. It’s an annual opportunity for me to see the work that our Foundation funds and share my love of Tanzania and my deep-seated belief in the power of clean water with other passionate supporters.
Conquering Kili is a program designed to bring professional athletes and veterans together to raise awareness and funds for the clean water crisis, all while challenging them to train for the hike of a lifetime up Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Each year, before the climb, we spend two days in-country visiting a prospective well site and villages where Waterboys wells have already been erected. For many of the guys, it will be the first time they see how the clean water crisis impacts the citizens of Tanzania and just how different day-to-day life is with and without a well nearby.
As my friend Elliot, a veteran on last year’s trip, described it. “You logically know that they are going to use the old oil jugs, caked with residue, to collect this unsafe water for their families, but when you’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder helping them do it, all the while knowing it could make them sick, it shakes you to your core.”
I know exactly what Elliot means, and it’s the same reason why I require everyone who is planning to make the climb to attend these visits. Because that reality will not only help fuel every individual to the summit, but also inspire the continued dedication to talking about the clean water crisis for days, months, and years to come. And for me, that is the most significant gift we can give to those we serve and the most important part of this program.
After the village visits, the tone around the group shifts. It’s difficult to describe but palpable in-person. The urge to get up the mountain is just as strong, but the reason WHY has likely morphed.
It’s hard to describe what the team and I are in for next week but this short video compiled from The Way Up footage last year does a solid job of capturing the power and challenge of the experience.
I want to thank all of my fellow 2019 Conquering Kili classmates for their partnership as advocates and fundraisers these past couple months. I hope you all will follow our journey both in the villages and on the mountain. For 11 days we will give all of our attention to the cause at hand and the mountain ahead of us. I hope you will send us your support for a successful summit on March 10 and if you can, donate to help the team get water to as many Tanzanians as possible.
Upward for water!
Super Bowl Champion LI & LII
2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year