SHALVA approached me in 2013 to put together and coach a team of runners from the UK to take part in the 2014 Jerusalem Marathon. I had already heard a little about Shalva, but it wasn’t until I was in Jerusalem for the marathon and they asked me to speak at their pre race gala dinner to motivate their team of over 500 international runners, that I began to realise what a special charity they are.
SHALVA, the Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel, is dedicated to offering high quality care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion. Non-denominational and free-of-charge, SHALVA’s programs provide care from infancy through adulthood, empowering parents to raise their children with special needs within the family framework. Through twenty-five years of award-winning program development, SHALVA has become an indispensable element of Israel’s cultural skyline.
After the success of the marathon, I put the idea of an Extreme Fundraising Challenge to them and it wasn’t long before we launched the SHALVA Mt Kilimanjaro Summit Challenge. The challenge was marketed to people all over the world and we soon filled up all the places (and a few extra) with women and men from Israel, America the UK and Canada.
On the 18th October, 28 people will start their journey, meeting in Addis Ababa and arriving in Kilimanjaro on the 19th October. Over the following 8 days they will walk over 100km with nearly 14,000 ft of ascent to reach Uhuru Point, the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, 5,895 meters above sea level.
This will be a spectacular journey, but what makes this trek even more special is the timing. Four days into the trek we will make camp at Barranco Wall, with an altitude of 3,900 meters (nearly 13,000 ft) and bring in Shabbat to coincide with Jews around the world taking part in The Shabbat Project. We will possibly be the first group to spend the whole of Shabbat in that camp at 3,900 meters. We will daven Kabbalat Shabbat, light the Shabbat candles, make Kiddush and sing zmirot. We may even listen to a shiur or two from one of our participants, Rabbi Ari Sheinfield.
Shabbat morning services will be held in our mess tent and after, possibly the world's first ever “Kiddish at Altitude” will take place. We will talk and reflect on many topics whilst sitting way above the clouds. I am sure it will feel all the more spiritual.
We are all sure to feel relaxed and refreshed after our relaxing Shabbat and will then have the final three days of ascent, when on Tuesday 27th October at around 7am, local time, we hope to all reach the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. It will be an amazing achievement for every climber and the journey will be made even more special with our participation in The Shabbat Project 2015.
I will keep you posted with an update on our return. Until then I wish you all a Shana Tova Umetukah, a happy, healthy and sweet new year, filled with many exciting adventures.
Perry Sugarman is an IRONMAN Certified Coach, British Athletics Running Coach and a National Standards Cycling Instructor. He has been coaching aspiring athletes and Personal Training clients for over 15 years. Perry is also a specialist in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and has devised the Xtreme HIIT workout system that can be found in gyms and studios all around Israel.
Perry’s coaching company PJS Training, have also been consulting to charities and corporate companies, organising and leading International Challenges for over 15 years. These events include international cycle rides, mountain treks, desert treks and marathons. They work with organisations in Israel and the UK, planning, launching and leading extreme fundraising challenges that raise millions of Pounds, Dollars and Shekels for good causes.
Perry is the SHALVA Trek Leader for this summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. He has first hand experience on Kilimanjaro and many years of leading other international challenges. Originally from London, Perry made Aliyah in 2014 with his family and now lives in Raanana, Israel.