The Old Man and The Mountain
On July 11, I will begin a personal challenge—to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The 19,340’ summit is the highest peak in Africa and is atop the highest free-standing mountain in the world. For six days our group of ten climbers, ten porters, and one guide will ascend to the peak and return. This quest will fulfill a long-held bucket list desire of mine. I have named this adventure “The Old Man and The Mountain,” with all due respect to Ernest Hemingway.
However, this personal conquest is merely half of the story. The other half involves you and requires your help. I have set a goal of raising $19,340, $1 for each foot in elevation of Mt. Kilimanjaro, for the Healing Hearts Program at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas. Here is the reason.
Nearly 15 years ago, I left the business world to return to college, St. Edward’s University, to earn a Masters of Arts in Counseling degree. I then continued to meet the other requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor and begin a private practice in Austin specializing in dying, death, bereavement, grief, and mourning. An integral part of my practice has been to be an experienced companion to parents grieving the death of their children. An important aspect of that companioning has been to conduct support groups at the Ronald McDonald House in Austin. I have had the honor of leading numerous loss of child groups, especially the HOPE group for bereaved parents suffering from a perinatal loss, for the past 13 years. In my private practice and in the groups, I have witnessed the anguish that parents experience after the death of their child, especially the unborn child when birth and death occur at nearly the same time.
When a child up to 18 years old dies in the Austin and surrounding area, the Ronald McDonald House Charities steps forward to help those parents through its unique Healing Hearts Program. The program offers financial support for the burial assistance for those in need, underwrites groups such as the HOPE group, co-sponsors an annual remembrance service every autumn, and provides a memorial stone in the House’s remembrance garden with the name of the child engraved on it. Healing Hearts has been an important contributor to helping parents regain some stability and peace in their lives.
As I prepare for my arduous climb, I think of the arduous task faced by these parents. Their “climb” isn’t for 6 days or 6 weeks or 6 months or even 6 years. It is for a lifetime. I ask you to help me help them. Make my effort as meaningful as possible by pledging whatever you feel comfortable with toward my goal of $19,340. Whether it is $1 or $1,000, anything you can give will be greatly appreciated by the grieving families the House serves. For more information and to make a contribution, please click here. Thank you!