Hiking up a mountain is not a simple task for anyone, particularly when the mountain is 19,341 feet tall.
But 23-year-old Charlotte resident Nate Davis will take on the challenge July 12, and in the process possibly become an inspiration for others considering similar endeavors. Davis was born with a cerebral hemorrhage, which has altered his cognitive abilities, but family and friends said he has never let his disability define him or hold him back.
Davis found his passion for adventure at Waypoint Adventure in Massachusetts. And when leaders at Waypoint discovered The Elisha Foundation’s trek to Mt. Kilimanjaro, they instantly recommended Davis as a candidate.
“I’m honored that he was asked to do this,” Davis’s mother, Rose, said. “I’m proud that he’s promoting abilities of the disabled.”
Davis soon met with Tony Monaco, the director of operations for the North American office for Himalayan Glacier Trekking LLC. Monaco had organized a trip for Eli Reimer, 18, who has Down syndrome, with a group of 14 to the Nepal side of the Everest Base Camp in March 2013. When Monaco started to plan another trip with Reimer to Mt. Kilimanjaro for this year, Davis began training with him.
Monaco, who grew up in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, discovered a passion for mountains at a young age. He and Davis began training several times a week, every week, and would often go to Crowders Mountain State Park to hike with weight packs to build “strong leg muscles.”
“My favorite part of training was walking on Crowders,” Davis said, adding that he wasn’t much of a hiker before and had to get in shape.
“We have worked so hard,” Monaco said. “It’s helps to get this hard work in.”
In March, Monaco was coming back from an injury and also needed to get back in shape. Through working out with Davis the duo learned about each other and prepared physically and mentally for this month’s trek.
“We couldn’t have done what we’re doing now back in March,” Monaco said.
Davis is excited about his upcoming adventure – both for the hiking challenge and the new experiences.
“I’m excited to go halfway around the world and see nature,” he said.
Although Davis is a world traveler, taking trips to France and Mexico, he said he’s nervous about going to Africa and being in a new environment. His mother is nervous, too, but knows her son and Monaco have “forged a wonderful bond” and that everything will be fine.
The adventure will take place from July 12 to Aug. 1. The team will explore Tanzania, go on a safari and then climb Mt. Kilimanjaro from July 18 to July 25. Davis, Monaco and Monaco’s son, Tyler, plan to travel to an orphanage in Tanzania to provide needed supplies a few days before the trip.
The adventure is coordinated through Trek 4 TEF, which was founded as a means of introducing people with disabilities of all types to the outdoors, to create awareness about disabilities and to support The Elisha Foundation (TEF) and their global work among the disabled. The group is a facet of TEF, “an organization whose mission is to transform the lives of people impacted by disability through providing needed spiritual and physical resources,” according to their website. Reimer’s parents founded TEF to minister to families of individuals with special needs.
Monaco said the foundation gives individuals who have disabilities a chance to become more, work hard and give resources and support to families of the disabled.
“There’s hope for these families,” he said
Davis, Monaco and Tyler have raised funds for TEF to form Team Charlotte. They will host a walk-a-thon Wednesday, July 9, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Quail Hollow Middle School, located at 2901 Smithfield Church Road. Donations will be accepted to walk and talk with Davis and Tyler as they participate in their last big training session before Kilimanjaro, Monaco said.
Contact Monaco at 704-200-7512, or go to their website for more information about the event and foundation.