The story

Just over seven years ago, Karim H. Ismail, the programme’s founder and my spouse, was in such poor physical shape as a result of long-standing back problems that he had difficulty walking to the end of our driveway, and was scheduled for major back surgery, which he fortunately managed to avoid. After a year and a half of intensive therapy and training, he completed the 60km Weekend to End Breast Cancer Walk in September 2004 with me. We also completed the 60 km Walks in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 with a growing number of friends.

In October 2004, Karim walked the Toronto ½ Marathon Walk in under three and a half hours. And on January 20, 2005, he successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with our then 21-year-old daughter Aliya, reaching Gillman’s Point at an altitude of 5,865 metres. He indicates it was the most exhilarating (and physically challenging) experience of his life.

So he thought: why not take this experience, share it with others, and enable students at independent schools to undertake the challenge of their lives by climbing the world’s tallest free standing mountain while helping develop leaders through the support of local schools in Africa? After all, we were already serving the e-communication needs of independent schools in North America through our company the Eighty20 Group, so this was an opportunity to give back to schools, and to help make a difference in the developing world.

The first trip, focusing on children impacted by HIV/AIDS, was held in March 2006. The trip was a huge success, and raised over $47,000 dollars, with most students getting to the top of the mountain.

The second trip, focused on children’s educational development, was held in March 2007. The trip was a huge success, and raised over $200,000 dollars, with most students summiting the mountain and everyone being hugely impacted by their week of community service at Leader’s Today in Kenya.

In total, eight schools have participated in the expeditions so far, and the feedback has been very positive.

So I decided to take over this initiative in July 2009, with the aim of reaching the goal Karim originally set of raising $1 million in support of development initiatives. To date, the schools who have participated have raised over $500,000 collectively.

From 2010 onwards, expeditions will take place on three continents in five countries: Africa (Tanzania), South America (Peru and Ecuador), and Asia (Nepal and Vietnam).

By 2020, my goal is to engage thousands of students annually on this project, directly or indirectly, and help raise $1 million ANNUALLY.

If you feel your school might be up to this very challenging project, I would love to hear from you.

Please contact me:

Karim H. Ismail

Climb for Leaders
416-383-1300 x 3