After battling cancer, Mark Joffe faced another challenge, as he joined an international group of climbers and headed to Tanzania, Africa to climb the 19,000 ft. high Mt. Kilimanjaro; but not before dedicating his climb to the children of Shalva. Mark was determined to making his journey as meaningful as possible and raised three times his original fundraising target.
“At Shalva every child is a world of their own,” explains Joffe when asked why he chose to incorporate the organization into his climbing goal. “I visited Shalva to see why and whom I was climbing for. Everyone came with a smile; everyone was happy. Not only were the children happy but the workers of Shalva who received them, received them like they were their own children. It’s phenomenal for the parents to know that they are going to an environment where they are happy and getting the treatments that they need. When I left Shalva, the feeling had was that I’m not just doing something good; I’m doing something great.”
The once-in-a-lifetime experience of climbing Kilimanjaro is no small feat. Climbers prepare for months in advance and the actual ascent, escorted by Tanzanian guides, takes about two weeks. The climb to the summit is especially difficult, often following a 15-hour trek up the steepest parts of the mountain, but is all worth it for the breathtaking views and the thrilling adventure. This year; however, as Joffe’s group approached the summit, whipping winds brought one of Tanzania’s most horrific snowstorms in recorded history to the mountain peak. Joffe and the other climbers in the group felt that this was the end- but not because there was a finish-line. When they finally reached the top, there were no grand views; only clouds and icicles and a story of survival for the ages.
The Kilimanjaro climb in which Joffe participated took place this October and brought together climbers from Israel, the United States, Canada, South Africa, and the UK; raising over $150,000 for Shalva. This is the third year in a row that Shalva Challenges has brought a group of climbers to the peak of Kilimanjaro.
Now that the climb is over, Joffe says that, “It’s great to be home and sleep in my own bed again. For me personally it was an honor to be part of this group of courageous zionistic climbers who got together for a wonderful cause. It was a wonderful experience and I thank the Shalva organization for giving us this opportunity to do our small part in helping the children who are so worthy of it.