YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown resident and business owner Chris Berlow recently returned from Africa, where he spent about a week climbing Mount Kilimanjaro while raising nearly $18,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The 1988 Yorktown High School graduate climbed the mountain with nearly a dozen other philanthropists from the United States, including his brother, John, a paramedic and firefighter from Peekskill.
At 19,341 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the continent of Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, meaning it is not part of a mountain range.
Berlow, who owns United Martial Arts Center in Shrub Oak and Briarcliff, has run marathons and is an avid hiker. Yet, Berlow said climbing Kilimanjaro was the most physically challenging thing he has ever done.
Berlow said his team summited Kilimanjaro on the seventh day of the climb. The summit was a near-eight hour straight hike, beginning at midnight and ending at 7:45 a.m.
“By the time you get there, you’re spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally drained,” Berlow said.
Still, he said, the view from the mountain’s peak was well worth it.
“I guess the word is majestic,” Berlow said. “You’re way above the clouds. We were where the airplanes are.”
The view was especially clear above the clouds, Berlow said.
“We didn’t even need our headlamps because the moon was so bright,” he said.
Every time Berlow and company reached their campsite, they would hike about another 1,000 feet and return back. Doing this, he said, helped them acclimate to the altitude.
Berlow said his favorite part of the trip was teaching taekwondo to the “porters” who carried equipment and set up camp for the team of hikers.
“It was awesome,” Berlow said. “I had a great time.”
He climbed Kilimanjaro as a member of Team in Training, which was founded in 1988 by Bruce Cleland as a New York City Marathon team to raise money in honor of his daughter, a leukemia survivor. That day, $322,000 was raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a non-profit organization headquartered in Rye Brook. The organization was founded in New York City in 1949.
Team in Training has been raising money for the society ever since, and people from all over the world now run, cycle, hike or complete some other athletic feat to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Read more about Berlow's climb here.