KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A West Michigan doctor and his family members are climbing mountains to raise money for two nonprofit organizations focusing on advancing education.
In a little over two weeks, Kalamazoo Doctor Ash Goel and three of his family members leave for Tanzania to climb one of the tallest mountains in the world.
As they climb, the group is hoping to raise money to help advance education in both the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Area as well as Tanzania.
"We are looking to climb the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. It is Mount Kilimanjaro," said United Way of the Kalamazoo & Battle Creek Region board member Dr. Ash Goel.
Mount Kilamanjaro in Tanzania stands at 19,340 feet tall, and Dr. Goel said he started planning the climb over two years ago.
"The pandemic happened. It was supposed to be last year, but this year, as I turned 50, I'm hoping to be able to do exactly what I started to think about two years ago, but then I was wanting it to be more about others than about me," said Dr. Goel.
As a board member for the United Way of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Area, he wanted to use the climb to also make a difference by raising money and awareness for his organization along with another group called Focus on Tanzanian Communities.
"In Tanzania, there are girls schools that do not even have the basic facilities, and in our region here, there are several families whose children during the last years, were not able to get to school or did not have computers or access to internet, or even sometimes access to food," said Dr. Goel.
"Our focuses of education are really around kindergarten readiness, quality childcare, third grade reading proficiency, all ultimately to go towards supporting improved graduation rates for high schoolers across our county and our region," said United Way of the Kalamazoo & Battle Creek Area VP of Impact and Engagement Alyssa Stewart.
Going along with Dr. Goel will be his 16-year-old daughter, 22-year-old niece and 25-year-old nephew.
The group is scheduled to leave on August 15th and start their climb the evening of August 17th or the morning of August 18th.
"It'll be about 128 miles from the base, because we have to take a winding journey up. It is about nine days of a hike up and two days of coming down," said Dr. Goel.
Dr. Goel said he is hoping they can reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on August 26, as they'll make about seven stops along the way up.
You can also click here to make a donation in support of their journey of advancing education.