Photo: Kilimanjaro HikeOn the first and last days, it poured rain. At 9,000 feet, I came down with a bad case of bronchitis. At 12,000 feet, my face and my hands swelled disproportionately as a result of altitude sickness. At 15,000 feet, I worried about whether I would make it through at all. Seven days, six nights later, I bounded back down to sea level, able to check Mount Kilimanjaro off my travel to-do list. For charity, no less…

Before I left for Tanzania, I had never logged a night inside a tent.  Let alone a tent on a mountain.  But when a friend of mine asked me to attempt a summit of Mount Kilimanjaro for a Kenyan orphanage, I couldn’t say no. Looking back, I’m so glad that I agreed.

Enter Flying Kites, a non-profit organization that is working to break the cycle of poverty by testing the traditional fundraising model. Their Adventure Challenge Program tasks global adventure seekers with fundraising for once-in-a-lifetime trips that test both the mental and physical endurance of participants. If it’s your dream to scale Everest, surf your way down Nicaragua’s coast, or kayak around Baja’s Espiritu Santo Island, Adventure Challenges has the trip.  After committing to raise between $3,000 and $5,000 (50% goes directly back to Flying Kites; 50% covers trip costs), travelers set off for one of six destinations around the globe. Everything is taken care of–from airfare to meals–but the best part is the individual and collective impact of such a mission.  Life changing.  Times two.

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