Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, but a group of Connecticut Police officers aren’t going to let it stand in the way of them raising money for Special Olympics Connecticut.
Several officers from around Connecticut have formed a team and plan to climb the mountain next week in the name of charity.
Before he was a Cheshire police officer, David Maliar taught Max Zionts to swim. Zionts later became a Special Olympian. Mailar says it was Max who inspired him to start the Mount Kilimanjaro fundraising campaign.
“A lot of the athletes that are involved, they climb mountains themselves (in life)” said Maliar. “So if we can climb an actual mountain in their name, I think that makes a big statement.”
Maliar was all in, but first he needed to convince his fellow police officers to join him.
“When I heard about it, I was first like, no way. That’s absolutely crazy. There’s no way I’m climbing a mountain in Africa,” said fellow Cheshire Police Officer Michael Durkee.
Mailar was persuasive and organized a group of 12 officers from six different Connecticut Police departments - Cheshire, Putnam, Guilford, Naugatuck, Watertown and Wilton. On February 19, they will attempt to climb the tallest mountain in Africa.
“It’s hard to prepare for 19,341 feet,” said Maliar, “where there’s 50 percent oxygen and 50 percent air volume at the top.
The mountain is one of the elite “Seven Summits,” the seven tallest mountains on each continent.
“It’s categorized as a strenuous hike and you got to consider the extreme altitude too. That’s one of my concerns,” said Donna Brown of the Putnam Police Department.
Mt Kilimanjaro stands over 19,000 feet in height and is positioned in Tanzania, practically on the equator.
“I’m anticipating being out of breath sitting still,” said Maliar.
The excursion is expected to take six days. Four on the way up, two on the way down. Their climb begins February 19 but they’re already imagining what it will be like at the top.
“We’re gonna be 19,341 feet above sea level and we’re gonna be holding the Special Olympics of Connecticut flag up. I mean That’s gonna be special,” said Durkee.
Not only is this team looking to summit, they’re also hoping to reach their fundraising peak. They’ve raised over $147,000 with a goal of $150,000 by next week.