Locals climb Kilimanjaro, raise $60,756 for Terry Fox Foundation

WELLINGTON COUNTY – County natives Douglas Jack and Ken Lennox climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Terry Fox Foundation, reaching the summit on Sept. 15.

Jack, Lennox and two others raised a total of $60,756 for the foundation.

Having supported the Terry Fox Foundation over the last 39 years, Jack, a native of Fergus, said he was looking for a different way to support the organization this year.

“In anticipation of my 60th birthday, I was sort of contemplating doing something special and the Terry Fox Foundation was near to my heart,” said Jack.

In October 2017 Jack reached out to the foundation about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.

“[The foundation’s board] unanimously indicated that … was something that they were intrigued with and supportive of,” said Jack.

The climb itself  was a not foundation-sponsored event.

“It was our own separate event with the proceeds going to the Terry Fox Foundation, but we worked very closely with the [foundation] to sort of get the word out,” he added.

In September 2018, Jack contacted Gordonville native Lennox, also a longtime Terry Fox supporter.

“This wasn’t necessarily on my bucket list or even on my radar. But I’m 65 years old and I thought, ‘In 10 years, I’ll probably wish I’d done that,’” said Lennox.

Jack and Lennox’s group used the help of Colorado-based company Tusker Trail to organize the climb, which took eight days – six days to the peak and two days to descend.

During the climb, Jack and his fellow climbers faced challenges that included altitude sickness, freezing weather conditions, and the physical toll of climbing at an elevation of over 19,000 feet.

“At the end of the fourth day, one of my colleagues was demonstrating all of the classical signs of high altitude sickness and it was just in his best interest to descend to a lower elevation,” said Jack.

The second challenge, he said was the physical demand of the climb.

“You know, there are portions of it that are exceptionally steep. There’s a place called the Barranco Wall and I would say it’s about 850 meters, essentially straight up,” said Jack.

Preparing for the trip, Lennox said, got him into better shape than he had ever been in.

“But that’s only part of it. You have got have the right mindset, mentally; you’re following somebody in front of you, uphill for eight days.”

When they finally reached the summit, Lennox, Jack and fellow climber Ewen Ferguson walked the last few steps together.

“We joined arms and walked to the summit, three abreast,” said Jack.

“It was exhilarating. I think any time one meets their goal, there is a level of thankfulness, that your determination has paid off.”

Lennox said it’s hard to put the experience into words.

“It’s like, really hard … to verbalize or explain to someone else. It’s a very personal thing and really hard to convey to anyone really what that experience is like,” said Lennox.

Both he and Jack hope that with continued support, the Terry Fox Foundation can find a cure for cancer.

“All of us have, in some respects, been touched by cancer; family, friends, we all know someone who has suffered,” said Jack. “The Terry Fox Foundation is very efficient in terms of its funding for cancer research. I think they’ve made a number of great strides in funding brilliant researchers to help find a cure.”

The amount of support the trip received was humbling, Lennox told the Advertiser.

“I was totally blown away by the generosity of my sponsors and how people came forward to help me meet that goal,” he said.

“Many of these people are business acquaintances, associates, that I’ve had for a lifetime. I was absolutely blown away by that. It was very humbling to think that people would see my vision and participate in that way.”

Jack said continued support for organizations searching for a cure is vital.

“I think that all of us in society, to the extent that we can find a cure, will be helped out immensely,” he said.

“We can avoid the scourge of cancer sometime in the near future, I hope.”