Advisors conquer Kilimanjaro for charity

A group of Canadian advisors successfully scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and one of the Seven Summits, raising $50,000 for Tanzanian street children.

A group of Canadian advisors successfully scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, raising $50,000 for Tanzanian street children.

“This is the second dedicated climb by folks in the financial industry in Canada to raise money for Amani Childrens’ Home,” said Dan Richards, chief executive of Client Insights and organizer of the expedition. “The first climb [in 2011] raised north of $80,000 and this year we were just under $50,000 – but we had Rob [Lewkowitz] and his son, which we considered one fundraising unit, and we had a married couple – so we had five units raising money. Each had a goal of $5,000 – or a total $25,000 and we raised twice that.”

Amani Children’s Home is dedicated to the protection of Tanzanian street children. Over the past decade it has rescued hundreds of children from the perils of life on the streets, where they face dangers such as malnutrition and abuse. Amani seeks to provides food, education, counseling and medical care for every street child who turns to them for help. When possible, children are reunified with extended families.

This year the climbers were Robert Lewkowitz of Lewkowitz Financial in London, ON, and his son Nathan; Karen Short of Standard Life Investments in Vancouver, with her husband Timothy Smith; Leanne Brothers of Dundee Wealth in Vancouver; Kevin Sassa of CIBC Wood Gundy in Lethbridge, AB, and Doug Wagner with Dundee Wealth in New Hamburg, ON.

“When you talk to people about the experience they are just blown away when they visit the home and the work they are doing, how far a dollar goes and the impact they are making,” said Richards. “We’ve had quite extraordinary feedback from climbers who visit the home and didn’t have high expectations, but walked away saying ‘wow’ because they are making a huge difference.”

“Our poster child for the enthusiastic fundraiser is Murray Morton who’s in Toronto with Dundee,” said Richards, describing a participant in the 2011 climb. “He’s still raising money, it’s two years later and he’s raising money on his own.” 

Robert Lewkowitz of Lewkowitz Financial in London, ON, said the climb was challenging and exhilarating, but would be doable for most healthy adults – particularly if they take precautions such as adjusting for risks such as altitude sickness and potentially fatal conditions such as pulmonary or cerebral edema, which can develop when too quickly ascending to high-altitude, low-oxygen environments.

“We did the 10-day trek, as there is a higher success rate because you have more time for acclimatization, and on day six we stayed at the same camp, but we went up and descended to help with acclimatization,” he said. “Every day seemed like a mini triumph, and there was always the anticipation about how cold it would be, the lack of oxygen and how difficult it would be.”

All climbers were successful on the final ascent, and conditions were relatively good. The temperatures falling to at only -5°C to -10 °C on the day of the final ascent… on bad days they can hit as low as -30°C.

“Our lines for our Camelbacks [backpack hydration systems] could have frozen up a bit, though we were told how to blow them out to prevent from freezing,” said Lewkowitz.