Climbing for a cause

Winnipegger sets sights on Kilimanjaro summit, $5,000 for charity

Winnipegger Marissa Zurba has been doing a lot of stairs lately, and not just to stay in shape during the winter. Zurba is going to be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise $5,000 for SOS Children’s Villages.

SOS Children’s Villages is the world’s largest charity dedicated to providing help for orphaned and abandoned children. The climb Zurba is doing is through Dream Mountains Foundation, an organization that allows people the opportunity to raise money for a charity of their choice by climbing a mountain with a “dream team” of other climbers.

Dream Mountains was created by Shawn Dawson, whose goal is climbing the tallest peak on every continent. 

“He felt it would be more meaningful if his quest was part of a larger goal,” says Graeme Burk, Director of Communications for SOS. “Dawson and his team of climbers formed the Foundation and have used their climb as an opportunity to raise money for charity.”

Kilimanjaro, which Zurba will be facing, is 5,895 metres to the top. “It is a lot of strain and endurance with your legs,” Zurba explains. “You’re going to be on your feet 6-8 hours. Your biggest challenge there is adjusting to the altitude, so you don’t get altitude sickness.”

The itinerary for the eight-day trek includes resting periods to adapt to the altitude.

The dream team consists of 28 climbers plus two team leaders, five of whom are raising money for SOS Children’s Villages. Each member of the team has a goal of raising $5,000 for a charity, and collectively they hope to raise $100,000.

The team leaves March 29 for their climb and returns April 12.

Zurba became involved with the charity several years ago when she decided to sponsor a child, a girl named Letikros.

SOS, which operates in 133 countries, does not raise the children in a foster or orphanage home. “We raise children in family homes with an SOS mother: an extensively trained local woman who provides constant long-term care, love and support for five to ten children,” Burk says.

“This year she took martial arts classes, she took dancing,” Zurba says of Letikros. “It’s not about just making sure they do well in school, it’s also making sure they are well-developed, well-rounded.”

Zurba, a Chartered Accountant who works for the Province of Manitoba, seems well prepared for her big climb. She began going on adventures a few years ago when she biked across Canada with a friend for two and half months in 2010. Upon her return, she ran a marathon to stay in shape.

“When I saw the ad in the newsletter [from Dream Mountains Foundation] I felt that this was a challenge that I could do,” she says.

She’s currently raised $445 dollars of her $5,000 goal, but hopes that her fundraiser social the evening of February 7, at Earl Grey Community Center, will help her reach the full amount.

Published in Volume 68, Number 18 of The Uniter (January 29, 2014)

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