Today, my friend and renowned climber, Jake Norton reached the 18,500-foot summit of El Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain and the third highest peak in North America.
Jake is aiming to be the first climber to complete the Triple Seven Summits – the three highest peaks on each continent. But the objective is less about tackling the mountains and more about helping combat the world’s most pressing development needs: water and sanitation. His goal is to utilize the climbs as a platform to raise awareness and to raise $2.1 million for the Denver-based non-profit Water For People. He’s calling the endeavor Challenge21.
Having already climbed six of the Challenge21 peaks — Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Everest, Cerro Aconcagua, Mount McKinley, Mount Stanley and Vinson Massif — El Pico de Orizaba marks his latest climbing success and one mountain closer to his final goal.
“Climbing the world’s great mountains has a huge amount of embedded drama and visibility… but, at the end of the day, usually the only people really gaining from a given climb are the climbers themselves. As both a professional climber and a husband and father, I knew I wanted to keep climbing, but also ensure it meant something, and had an impact far beyond myself. In short, I wanted to make sure I have a really good reason for spending months of my life away from my family, in faraway places, putting myself at risk… Challenge21 is the direct result of this desire,” Norton said.
Each climb includes a fundraising target, and an opportunity for people to donate funds directly to Water For People via Challenge21. This month, Live Worldly has teamed up with Challenge21 and Water For People to launch Climbing the Mountain to Clean Water Campaign.
“Partners like Live Worldly are enabling people to get involved through their purchases. The protection cords and other products are not only a powerful symbol of the climbs of Challenge21, but also directly support our work and our goals with Water For People,” Norton said. “By raising money and awareness, every step along the way brings us one step closer to addressing the world’s problem of clean water and adequate sanitation.”
Live Worldly is urging people to donate money to help the team reach their campaign goal. Each dollar donated is good for one entry throughout the month of giveaways ($10 = 10 entries) and will go directly to Challenge21 and Water For People to continue their good work. In addition, Live Worldly is selling featured products — Love in India Bracelet, Live Tibetan Protection Cord, Live Tibetan Prayer Bead Necklace and Live Tibetan Silk Khata — and donating a portion of the proceeds to Water For People via Challenge21.
For Norton, the challenge is a family affair. His wife, Wende Valentine works with Water For People and helped to found Challenge21 last year.
“Unsafe water and sheer lack of sanitation in the developing world kills one child under the age of five every 30 seconds. As a mother of two children under the age of five, I imagine myself as one the mothers of the children who make up this staggering statistic and I feel more compelled than ever to break this extreme cycle of poverty that vastly differs from what we experience in the western world,” Valentine said. “Due to lack of infrastructure and poor programming over decades, basic human needs are simply not being met. Everyone can be a part of this massive global effort by becoming aware of these geographic disparities and by contributing towards lasting solutions through Water For People. Together we have a chance to make a measurable difference that can ultimately transform entire communities around the world and allow us to truly “live worldly”!
The team is asking people to donate at the link here.
Editor: Kate Bartolotta