Lauren Molenda raised more than $25,000 for Girls Education Collaborative while training for her hike, which begins on March 11.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Six days up, two days down, and almost 20,000 feet above sea level. That’s what’s ahead of Lauren Molenda in the near future, as she prepares to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
“It is one of the Seven Summits, which are the highest summits on each continent, so it’s kind of a bucket list thing that people do, and I hope to do as well,” Molenda told 2 On Your Side. “This will be my first of the Seven Summits, and it is the highest peak in Africa.”
The East Aurora woman, who co-owns an advertising agency, leaves for Tanzania on Tuesday. She’s going with a group called Mountains and Marathons, a six-month leadership program for entrepreneurs and business leaders from all over the world.
“The great thing about this program is at the end of the program, we all meet up in person for the first time in Tanzania, and we climb Mount Kilimanjaro together,” she explained. “That’s part of our graduation ceremony from the program.”
Molenda signed up for the program in August, and has been training and solely focused on it ever since. Not only has she been amping up the cardio at her workouts, she also wanted to find a way to give back with her climb.
She decided to dedicate the hike to Girls Education Collaborative, a Buffalo-based nonprofit that operates a school for girls in Tanzania.
“So there’s a Buffalo tie, and there’s a Tanzania tie,” she said. “It’s a wonderful organization that does really incredible things to further education equality in Africa.”
Molenda worked with the school to collect donations and line up local businesses to sponsor different legs of the climb.
“In total, we raised more than $25,000 for the organization, and that’s going to do all sorts of things to further the school,” she said. “Expanding the infrastructure of the school, but also how many girls can take advantage of education at the school.”
Helping girls reach new heights in the classroom, with every step of her once in a lifetime hike.
“What I hope people see from this, is someone who is taking the necessary steps to be able to accomplish something that they want to. Even if it’s hard, even if it’s going to take work,” she said. “I really hope that my daughter sees somebody who is really willing to always follow their dreams and to reach their goals, regardless of what it takes or how hard it is to get there.”
You can learn more about the Girls Education Collaborative and contribute to Molenda’s fundraiser by clicking here.