When climbing a mountain, many people will say that one of the best moments is gazing out to the endless landscapes and horizons that stretch seemingly in every direction – new worlds that didn’t exist before, but now have unveiled themselves and are in full sight.
Cameron Martin and Matthew Blair’s upcoming Mt. Kilimanjaro climb, however, is not only about gaining new grounds and taking in new views for themselves. The Canadian duo has named their expedition “Summit for Sight” as they are together fundraising a dollar for every meter Kilimanjaro stands in height for Seva Canada, a Vancouver-based charity whose mission is to restore sight and prevent blindness in the developing world.
Cameron and Matt are climbing so others can see! Since 1982, Seva Canada has helped more than 3.5 million people see again.
The charity believes that giving sight to a blind person is the most effective way to relieve suffering, reduce poverty and transform lives. Their inspiring work extends to 12 of the world's poorest places: Nepal, Tibet, India, Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Guatemala, Cambodia and Egypt.
While the climbing duo have both travelled extensively around the world, including in many developing nations, Kilimanjaro’s 5,895 meter summit will be a first in elevation as neither Matt nor Cam have ever climbed this high before. Fortunately the two lead quite the athletic and active lifestyles, playing ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, skiing, snowboarding, amidst plenty of hiking and backpacking. As excited as Cam and Matt are about climbing Kilimanjaro, they’re also eager to create positive impact through their climb. “I get a lot of personal value from my travels,” says Cam, “it is nice to know that I am bringing something for the people that live in the places I visit as well... and most of all I like the simple focus of restoring one of the most valuable gifts a person can have... sight.” Matt shares this view “Throughout my travels I have seen so many people living in what we would consider poverty, often with debilitating disorders or diseases. I am always so impressed with how optimistic these people are, how much they can do with so little. It's contagious. With Kili, my thought was if I can orchestrate a way to give people a little more, I should.”
Matt and Cam became good friends in high-school in their hometown of Abbotsford, BC, sharing many interests together - as Cam says, “enjoying campouts, building epic tree forts and chasing girls together.” And while they moved into separate career paths, Cam into commercial real estate, and Matt into publication and graphic design, and even separated by different cities (Cam moving to Edmonton in 2007), they continued building their friendship along the way – connected by their passion for traveling, adventure, and sharing in new life experiences. In fact, when asked if they could only share one “life lesson” with their friends and family, what would it be, they both shared similar answers: Matt conveyed, “Stop talking about what you're going to do and just go do it. As a society we are far too focused on logistics and barriers to success that we end up missing out on once in a lifetime opportunities.
Similarly, Cam notes, “Don’t pass on opportunities to experience life... you only have one to live.” And these two certainly walk the talk. Following their five day climb with Kili Heroes via the Marangu route, and a 3 day safari, Matt and Cam will be backpacking their way to Victoria Falls, then go by bus to Harare, Zimbabwe, and then by plane to the Mozambique coast to swim with whale sharks and enjoy the beach! The duo has raised over $2,300 for Seva.