Nancy Harris’ doctor just wanted her to get a little exercise. The Tampa woman went above and beyond her doctor’s orders.
Waaaaay, above and beyond.
“I chose Kilimanjaro because I wanted a true challenge,” she said in a half-eye rolling, chuckling sort of way.
The Tampa woman was having back pain in 2010 and took up walking to gain some strength. That new activity eventually led her to try and tackle climbing Africa’s tallest mountain later that year.
“The views are all amazing where we’re going.”
In all, Harris has been to the peak of multiple mountains around the world. The best part, she’s taking friends with her.
“It was certainly very exotic,” said Nancy’s friend, Elizabeth Harris. “You’re only there because you got yourself there. You can’t get to these destinations with a car.”
Both Nancy and Elizabeth, along with Brenda Trayner and Jennifer Baldwin, have climbed all over the world. Nancy climbed Kilimanjaro in 2010, France’s Mont Blanc in 2012, made it to base camp at Mount Everest in 2014, Coast 2 Coast in England a year later then the GR-20 Corsica trek in 2016. All four friends made the Coast 2 Coast and Corsica trips together.
“Every day was hard. Every day was a challenge,” said Trayner.
“We were crossing rivers with rainstorms so the water was really high,” Elizabeth recalled. “You’re only there because you got yourself there.”
The purpose for the trips was two-fold. The group gets the enjoyment of seeing the world but also the enjoyment of helping kids at home. Nancy has spearheaded a fundraising effort on the hikes to raise money for Academy Prep School in Tampa by taking donations from friends and family. In all, she’s raised over $40,000 for the school since beginning her hikes in 2010.
“These are kids that walk a mile every day. Kids that have nothing economically and they try so hard every single day to get better,” said Nancy, who served six years on the Academy Prep board of trustees. “When we are on these trips and we’re struggling, and we do struggle, we think about the kids.”
Her analogy and hiking motto of, ‘I’d rather be exhausted than disappointed’, applied to the students she and her friends think of while making the exhausting hikes through the highest peaks in the world.
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“The days that you don’t feel like going, you can’t help but think about them,” she said. “There are days they don’t feel like going to school.”