May 10, 2015
By: Mandy Groff, Director, External Relations
On this Mother’s Day in the United States, I’m sending good wishes to all my fellow mamas out there, feeling blessed to have a healthy and happy four-year-old son and thinking forward to my summer plans.
This summer, July 11–19, I’ll be hiking all 19,341 feet of Mt. Kilimanjaro with 13 other team members to raise awareness and funds for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). But this journey means so much more to me than just the physical effort of climbing 19,000+ feet, although that is indeed daunting…
To me this climb represents the tenacity of the human spirit. Each foot climbed is a symbol of the power of determination and mind over matter, a hope that as we band together what we can achieve collectively is so much greater than what we can do as individuals. It is a commitment to the work of the END Fund and the broader NTD community to help ensure we see an end to these diseases within our lifetime.
It is this spirit that I want to instill into my son: the respect for community, the commitment to pay it forward, and the idea that karma matters. As a mother, I want to serve as an example to my son in word and in action that we are each responsible for ensuring a better future for all.
On July 19, as 14 weary, proud, and sore climbers descend Mt. Kilimanjaro to participate in a learning day highlighting how the funds we raised and the sweat equity we contributed made a difference, my son – Jonah – will be celebrating his fourth birthday.
On his birthday, Jonah will be surrounded by family members who love him and I will certainly miss him on this important milestone, but I will be incredibly proud to return home to share my experience and the impact it had on the lives of so many others. I could think of no greater gift to my son and I hope my actions will inspire him.