Last night my husband and I had a great time seeing A Beautiful Day, which is a New York-based U2 tribute band.... I thought it was due time that I give my own tribute to U2, especially to frontman Bono.
I had used hiking as my path to wellness for many years. I started with flat trails, then moved to molehills, mountains that once left me winded and even down (and thankfully up) the Grand Canyon. However, after conquering the Grand Canyon, my I started to feel a little lost in my training.
I started going to the gym and do a 28-minute fat burning cycle on the elliptical trainer (without breaking a sweat), or skip my strength training sessions for yummy yoga. I decided I needed a new challenge and it had to be Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the epitome of hiking challenges. It is Africa's highest peak and it is the largest mountain that you can hike to the top of. In other words no ice axes, ropes or supplemental oxygen are required. However, it is still an arduous task -- a grueling 5 and a half journey to the top, as you are stripped away from most of you comforts (your warm bed, your loved ones -- and a shower!)
I decided if I was going to take on this challenge, I was going to do it for a cause bigger than myself. It was because of Bono's use of his voice -- for not only his music -- that I learned about the AIDS crisis in Africa.
I was particularly taken by the plight of AIDS orphans in subsaharan Africa -- healthy children who have had a generation of parents, leaders and teachers stripped away from them by the deadly disease. To give you an idea about how many AIDS orphans there are in sub-Saharan Africa, prior to my first Kilimanjaro hike in 2007 there were 13 million. As I am about to take on my third hike, there are 18 million.
I found Global Alliance for Africa, a Chicago-based organization devoted to helping AIDS orphans through empowering programs such as education and microfinance. I signed up to date have raised more than $15,000 for their programs. I will raise $1 per foot of the mountain -- $19,343 -- through my next trip up Kilimanjaro. Click here to learn how to make a donation.
Now, as I gain some spotlight for my endeavors, I try to use it for good as well. Here is my latest live television interview and essay in Self magazine talking about my journey to wellness, hoping to inspire others to be active with their bodies and in their communities.
So thank you Bono for making me aware, inspiring me to do better and teaching me to use my voice in a positive way.
I'll be speaking 7 p.m. Tuesday (March 22) at Interweave in Summit, NJ about how to take Action Steps.