Mountain climbers help disabled children

By August 7, 2008

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." 

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