Located in Tanzania, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. (REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi)
Africa (MNN) ― Two people are going to raise awareness and money for disabled children by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro at the beginning of October.
Layton Shoemaker, Vice President of Major Gifts for CURE International, and Craig Hammon, Executive Vice President, hope to raise $100,000 and fund 100 corrective surgeries.
"It's not about me. It's not about something that is a fascination for me," Shoemaker said. "I really want to help children who literally have no hope whatsoever; they're living in desperate conditions. That's really why I chose to do this. I want to help those children."
At 19,340 feet, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. However, no technical equipment is required to make the climb, and the most dangerous issue is altitude sickness.
"Not everybody who makes this attempt is successful at it," Shoemaker said. "We're hoping that some of the things that we do by attempting to acclimatize ourselves will enable us to reach the summit, and that's certainly my goal: to reach the summit. There are portions of the mountain that are dangerous to traverse, but I'm confident that God is going to be in this, and we'll be well."
Shoemaker originally set $50,000 as his minimum goal of funds to raise, but he desires to raise twice that amount.
"By the grace of God, I have met my minimum goal, and now
I'm working on my desired goal of $100,000," he said. "And that could translate to be able to treat
hundreds of children."
Over 6,700 children have already received life-changing surgeries at CURE hospitals this year. Most of them suffer from club feet, cleft lip or cleft palate, hydrocephalus, or spina bifida. Scoliosis, kyphosis, and burn contractures are also common.
"There are a lot of children who have club feet, for example," Shoemaker explained. "Here in the United States, that condition is identified and corrected as soon as the child is born. In Africa, we could encounter children who have been suffering with club feet for their entire life."
The majority of the money that Shoemaker and Hammon hope to raise will go to CURE's five hospitals in Africa, Shoemaker said. Those hospitals treat many patients who suffer from burn contractures. Burn contractures occur when severe burns result in scarring, limiting mobility and damaging the nerves.
"In the areas where we work, their cooking is done over open fires," Shoemaker said. "So it's not uncommon for them to somehow fall into the fires."
Before they come to the hospital, CURE patients have no hope for a better life, Shoemaker explained.
"They live in a culture where they are taught that their condition is a result of some curse that has been placed on them by some strange god. And they turn to witchcraft and all other kinds of sorcery to attempt to find some kind of treatment for their condition," he said.
CURE works hard to heal children's bodies, but the ministry places just
as much priority on the spiritual welfare of their patients.
"The care that we provide is obviously First-World medical care," Shoemaker said. "And then they are also introduced to a sovereign God who cares very much for them. We literally have thousands of stories about the children that we've been able to help over the last 10 years. Last year alone, in Africa we had the opportunity to impact over 75,000 people."