Week 8 Recap: Fundraising and Breathing

Fundraising

In order for me to participate in this climb to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro this fall, I am required to raise $5,500 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The funds raised will support breast cancer research, education, screening for early detection and diagnosis initiatives, and provide support to improve the quality of life to those living with the disease. More information about how your money is used can be found on the official Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation website. I will be paying for all of my own expenses for the climb (including my return flight to Africa, climbing equipment, climb fees, and vaccines = more than $3,000).

As of this evening, 55 awesome supporters have donated! I have raised $2,806 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I’m half way there! If you haven’t contributed yet, there is still time! I am required to raise at least 80% of the goal by mid-July. Donations can be made here.

I have a few fundraising ideas up my sleeve, including a possible fundraising concert in Toronto, and the silent auction/raffle. I’ve been able to secure a well known performer from the UK to perform at the concert…but trying to locate the best venue for the concert is extremely difficult. It’s a huge gamble and risk as I’ll be paying the venue rental and tech employee fees out of pocket ($1,500-$3,500)…in the hopes that I can recoup my costs and raise some money for the event by selling tickets. I’m on the fence at the moment not knowing if I should proceed. If any of my readers out there have any ideas or know of a venue that is willing to donate their space that could accommodate a live performance and be marketable to the general public, please get in touch with me ASAP.

As for the silent auction idea: it has been recommended that I switch the fundraising silent auction event to a fundraising raffle event instead. Based on discussions with other folks who have had to raise large amounts for other charities in the past, they advised silent auctions tend to make less money than raffles. So good-bye silent auction and hello raffle!! All of the in-kind-donations I’ve received from my business sponsors will be available to be won via raffle! More details about the raffle will be provided in the coming weeks. Miraj Hammam Spa

On that note, this past week I received an extremely generous in-kind-donation (spa certificate) valued at $200 for the silent auction/raffle from Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris, located on the 5th floor of the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto.

Breathing

Researching online, I have encountered many stories about climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro and almost every single climber shared the same comment: ‘It doesn’t matter how fit you are…it’s the altitude that will get to you’. If you haven’t read last weeks blog about altitude, I suggest you take a peek.

Thankfully, I’ve had the experiencing of living in a ski resort town for 2 years (back in 2003), at an altitude of about 7,000 feet, and worked at one of the ski resorts with an altitude of 8,100 feet. I’m a heathy guy, who has ran in several 1/2 marathon races in the past. Yet, running up just 1 flight of stairs in Park City will take the breath out of you, if you haven’t acclimated.

During the last week I’ve been using my Elevation Training Mask which regulates the amount of air I can breathe by simulating different altitude levels (up to 18,000 feet). It comes with a very strong warning: ‘do not use without being supervised or with a training partner’. They are not kidding around. With my experience living and working in the ski resort town, I knew what to expect which the restricted air flow…but what I wasn’t expecting is the suffocating feeling of a simulated 18,000 feet.

Setting the mask at 18,000 feet as a test, I sat on the couch and began to breathe. Breathe what? I could barely feel the air passing through my lungs. Within about 7 minutes, my body went into panic mode, and I tried to calm it down, but your brain kicks in and says, “Hey stupid! It’s time to take the mask off. NOW!” I slowly kept breathing as much air as possible flowing through the mask. The suffocating feeling increases. You begin to sweat. Your heart beats faster as it tries to pump more blood to the brain to feed it oxygen…and finally your instincts kick in and out of no where your hands are ripping off the mask, while your lungs are filled with all of that rich oxygen outside of the mask! Deep breaths. Breathe as much as you can. Breathe.

The scary part of this experience is, the mask only simulates an altitude of 18,000 feet. I need to climb to a point of 19,341 feet. Also something to consider – I was sitting on the couch in my ‘simulation’ not moving or exerting myself. Having to climb, with a weighted backpack, for 8+hrs straight is the icing on the cake. This climb is going to be extremely difficult…and this is why acclimatization is necessary.

Using the mask during the next few months to train will help me prepare for the higher altitudes by regulating my breathing, increase my lung capacity, and condition my lungs to prepare for the difference in air flow during the climb. Let it be known, we will not be using oxygen masks during the climb. We will be climbing o-natural!

This week I’ll be decreasing the altitude simulation to 6,000 – 9,000 feet while doing some basic stretches and ab exercises. Perhaps the following week I’ll try going out for a short run wearing the mask.

This past week I completed the following:

June 3 – 9 
Monday: Played Beach Dodgeball (1hr)
Tuesday: Played Beach Volleyball (2.5hrs)
Wednesday: 4K run followed by 1hr 45 min weight training (shoulders and abs) at the gym
Thursday: Altitude mask breathing 18,000Kft (7mins) while sitting
Friday: rest
Saturday: City walking for 5hrs, altitude mask breathing 6Kft (15mins) while sitting
Sunday: Altitude mask breathing 6Kft (20mins) while sitting

Thanks everyone,
Jeff

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