Oyster Pointer: We know you’ve done some fundraisers before, but what are you planning now?
Mont Blanc. It’s the most spectacular mountain in the Alps, the highest peak (15,774 feet) in Europe. But unlike my climbs of Kilimanjaro in Africa (19,351 feet), this challenge is a bit different.
In what way?
In August 2020, I’ll fly to Geneva, Switzerland, and arrange transportation to Chamonix, France. Chamonix is the site of the first winter Olympics in 1924 and a mecca for climbers, skiers and hikers from around the world. From there, I’ll backpack/hike up, down and all around Mont Blanc, which will take me through France, Italy, Switzerland and back into France. I’m going solo and I’ll be self-guided (with topographical map and compass). It’ll take me 10 days – two weeks.
Wow! And other than a new challenge for you, what’s this for?
Habitat for Humanity. For everyone not familiar with what they do, they build homes for qualified working families. They’re funded by donations from local individuals, businesses, foundations, grants AND by new fundraising ideas. So this is one of ’em.
I’ll pay all of my expenses from start to finish and hope to increase both awareness of and donations to this wonderful non-profit organization offering “a hand up, not a handout” to some of our hard-working fellow citizens.
Sounds like a good cause and a real adventurous challenge. How do you find the confidence to take on something like this?
Confidence? I’d say my chances of completing this are about 50/50. I do like the challenge and the uncertainty, though.
50/50 you may fail? Really? Aren’t you someone who’s going to push yourself to succeed no matter what?
Not at all. I don’t go into challenges with that mindset. Failing has a negative rap but it isn’t always a bad thing. It means I’m pushing my limits a bit. It’s about trying hard stuff, not about necessarily succeeding. Heck, I’ve failed plenty of times in my life. But I’ve done okay plenty of times too.
You said you liked “the challenge and the uncertainty.” Why the uncertainty?
This lifestyle I’ve chosen has periods of transition, in many areas, that are, by definition, uncertain. I mean transition is uncertain. I’ve found those times to be full of available insights. I’m not an adrenaline junkie. Not a thrill seeker. I’m not even a traveler. I’m a homebody. Stuff like this does not feel natural at all. I find comfort in my daily routines. Just having to adapt to the uncertainties in something like this is a big part of my challenge. But if we can’t adapt to uncertainty in this life we’re in big trouble. So I’m just practicing.
And you’re doing this all by yourself?
The hiking, yes. But I’ll have lots of help from my family, friends and business associates. I couldn’t even attempt this without them. They’ll take care of my homes, our business, my dog, my horse, etc. I’m a very thankful man.
Why did you choose Habitat for Humanity for this?
I’ve been aware of and admired what they do since it began in the 1970s. Because I think a just society should want to help those less fortunate — and especially those who are doing all they can to help themselves — I’ve been a fan. I’ve been through many years of financial struggle but I’ve also been fortunate to live my life in this country, in the easiest and most plentiful years in all of human existence. I’ve also, with lots of help, built a really nice life so far. Habitat offers a stairway to home ownership (truly a dream for most of its applicants) for folks willing and able to climb those stairs themselves.
Out of the hundreds of annual applicants, due to the limitations of donated funding, only a dozen or so are accepted. They’re required to have demonstrated the character and capability to accept the responsibility to pay their own mortgages. They have to have solid years of stable employment and performance, have maintained an excellent credit rating (usually in spite of challenging financial conditions), agree to invest 100s of hours of sweat equity, physically working in the field on their own and on others’ homes, while also attending classes on home ownership/personal finance. Those not accepted are counseled about specific areas to address and encouraged to improve so they can re-apply the next year. These people are really being challenged. What I’m trying to do is nothing compared with that. Who are better to help than hard working people doing their best?
It sure sounds like your heart’s in it. Oyster Pointer promises to be supportive. Anything more before we end this chat?
Sure. To your readers: please take a moment to visit and familiarize yourself and learn more — Habitatpgw.org — A specific site to follow my progress will be in place well before I start. Thank you for the opportunity to share this with your readers, and I hope they’ll be supportive as I challenge myself.