Climbing for a cause

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (WLFI) – Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro is more than 19,000-feet high, but that didn’t stop Crawfordsville native Ryan Bowerman from tackling the climb to the top.

“It was almost overwhelming,” said Bowerman. “It was kind of emotional, just hitting the top. Hitting that sign at the top.”

Those are the feelings Bowerman said he felt when he reached the top of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in July.

Bowerman was part of a team that climbed the African mountain to raise money for Vision for the Poor, an international non-profit organization that treats blindness from preventable causes in developing countries.

However, he said it wasn’t an easy feat.

“I was pretty committed to getting to the top, but it was kind of a test of willpower,” said Bowerman.

He said the first few days of the four and a half day climb were mild, but it was at about 15,000 feet that Bowerman began to experience serve altitude sickness.

“I wasn’t able to eat much and didn’t have a lot of energy the very last day of the climb,” said Bowerman. “There were definitely times during that last day where I thought, There’s no way. I’m just going to have to turn back.”

Turning back wasn’t an option for Bowerman.

He said his team raised $50,000 for Vision for the Poor, which will give more than 200 children the chance for surgery to prevent blindness.

Bowerman said it was the cause that motivated him.

“Every step was kind of convincing myself to keep going,” said Bowerman. “Which made it a really rewarding feeling when I got to the top.”

After finally reaching the top, Bowerman said the next feat was getting back down, but it didn’t stop him from celebrating what he had accomplished.

“It was such a challenge to just push through that, and then actually getting to the top was just an exhilarating feeling,” Bowerman said.

He doesn’t plan on climbing the mountain again anytime soon, but said he may take a longer route next time in order to avoid altitude sickness.

Although it wasn’t easy, he said it’s the experience and the impact that matters.

“I got to have this really great experience. But also doing it for a really great cause, and there’s so many of those out there and really does make a huge impact,” said Bowerman.

An experience Bowerman said was worth every step.

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