Students to Scale Mountain for AIDS Clinic, Awareness

December 01, 2008 - News Release

A group of University of Guelph students are raising money to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa by climbing that continent's highest mountain. They hope to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, almost 6,000 metres above sea level, on Christmas Day.

"About 8,000 people die of AIDS every day," said team leader Lauren Wallace, a second-year arts and sciences student. "We care so much that we're willing to climb a mountain for it."

Also on the team are students Normand Doan, Taryn Guldborg and Richard Gilbert, as well as Cathy Wallace, Lauren Wallace's aunt and a Hamilton police officer.

The group has raised about $15,000 through their initiative "Climb to End AIDS." The money will go to the Masai Project for an AIDS clinic in Lesotho, where nearly one-third of people have HIV/AIDS, among the world's highest rates.

Besides funding the clinic, the team hopes to draw attention to the AIDS epidemic, which is also the theme of World AIDS Day. Every Dec. 1 for the past 20 years, individuals and organizations from around the world have come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic.

AIDS and HIV continue to ravage many of the world's poorer countries. An estimated 33 million people worldwide have the disease. Two out of three people with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than 11 million children have been orphaned on that continent because of the disease.

The group will head to Tanzania Dec. 14 and begin their ascent two days later. They expect to reach the top by Dec. 25 and fly back home by Dec. 28. This is the first such expedition for the U of G students, who have been training for the trek.

"Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is going to be challenging, but I'm hoping I'll come out of it a stronger person — body and mind," said Guldborg. "I know that I'll definitely be missing my family during Christmas, but I'm hoping that the view from the summit on Christmas Day will be worth the separation."

U of G history professor Jacqueline Murray, who is Wallace's faculty mentor, said the students are "a wonderful example of the caring nature of our University community. Their project is an incredible example of learner-centredness and of how education at Guelph moves out of the classroom to encompass the world."

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338.

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