It has yet to reach the foothills, but the group that plans to climb Kenya’s Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for charity already has people falling behind.
From initial meetings packed with dozens of interested students, the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project’s Climb for a Cause has shrunk to six climbers as the realities of raising $5,000 per person have set in. But organizers said they expect the difficulty of raising such a large amount of money to limit the number of students able to participate.
Nir Harish ’05, who said he was initially interested in the climb when it was announced last year, said the task of raising so much money had been a struggle for many Yalies with already packed summer schedules.
“I was abroad all summer so fundraising was harder to do than I expected,” Harish said. “It’s an intimidating goal for a lot of people. It’s definitely the kind of thing that I wish I could do, but I just wasn’t able to get the money together.”
Andrew Towne ’05, who is the treasurer of YHHAP and is organizing the trip, said the decrease has been at least partially planned.
“Last spring we started out by attracting everyone and getting a huge e-mail list,” Towne said. “We’ve been using a system of deadlines to determine who’s going and who’s not going. We can’t book and plan this trip to Africa until the money’s in the bank.”
But despite the decrease in numbers, climbers are confident they will be able to raise a significant amount of money for charity. A little less than half of the money raised by each climber will go to pay for the trip, while the rest will be split evenly between YHHAP and the Watoto wa Lwanga project, a charity for street children in Nairobi.
Diana Swett ’05, who is going on the trip, said she was not that upset by the decrease in numbers.
“I am a little disappointed, but I also think it makes the organization of the trip a lot easier for us and we’re still going to have enough people that we’re going to be able to raise a significant amount of money.”
Towne said only four of the six students who plan on going have raised all of the necessary money.
Kaitlyn Trigger ’06, another student who will participate in the expedition, said the climbers plan to depend on business sponsorship to increase the amount of money they raise. The group will focus on local law firms, doctors’ offices, and outdoors-oriented stores like Trailblazer and Sound Runner to obtain sponsorships, Trigger said. Businesses get a plaque for donating $500, while those who donate $1000 can have a banner with their logo on it carried up all 19,340 feet of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The group also hopes to hold a gala to raise even more money later this year.
Trigger said the fundraisers were aiming high.
“Each of us is responsible for raising $5,000, but we would of course like to raise more,” Trigger said. “Depending on the amount of business sponsorship we get, we could raise more — around $30,000 is our minimum goal.”
YHHAP Co-coordinator Magni Hamso ’05 said she would be happy with any amount of money the climbers were able to raise.
“The climb is really great for publicity, but also in terms of raising money,” Hamso said. “Our main sources are Dwight Hall and the biannual fast so the amount of money we have right now might not be sufficient.”
Trigger said she is excited for the climb, no matter how many people choose to participate in the end.
“It’s a great opportunity to raise money for two good causes, and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Trigger said. “According to [Towne], six is a perfect number.”