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More than Climbing a Mountain

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It was January 12, 2014. Sitting in my apartment in Long Island City, Queens, looking out over a snow-covered cityscape, I took the first step on a journey that would profoundly impact my life. With the click of a mouse, I signed up to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and raise $7,500 for the Discover Outdoors Foundation. I was pumped! I had no idea how I was going to make this happen, but I was determined to figure out a way. I set out on this journey with a mission to throw myself way outside of my comfort zone and inspire others to do the same.

Fast forward 10 months and I'm back at my office in midtown Manhattan reflecting on one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was amazing. Hiking the snow-covered mountain by moonlight and seeing the sun rise over the clouds on summit day is something I will never forget. I pushed myself beyond what I had ever thought I could do. I built friendships with extraordinary New Yorkers who summited the mountain with me. And, I learned lessons about happiness, perseverance and teamwork that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

But more than anything, I learned that each and every one of us is capable of so much more than we could ever imagine. Climbing Kilimanjaro and raising money for the Discover Outdoors Foundation is something I never thought I could do. Although I was excited and exhilarated to try, I was equally nervous, but I went for it anyway. I believe that we are all capable of making big things happen in our lives. All it takes is throwing your hat over the fence to kick yourself into action toward achieving your dreams.

I am beyond grateful to have had this life-altering experience. It is so rewarding to know that the money raised through my climb is being used to bring life-changing outdoor experiences to kids in my community through the Discover Outdoors Foundation, and that my story is playing a role in inspiring others to go after their dreams, even the ones that seem impossible to achieve.

Author: Lauren Billings, Discover Outdoors Member

To follow in Lauren's footsteps and join our next Mt. Kilimanjaro adventure, click here.

Categories: Adventure, People, Education