Hidden Treasures – No Barriers
When we take our challenges in life head on, leaving fear by the wayside, we many times end up finding hidden treasure. Not the kind of treasure that you can cash in and add to your bank account or add to your list of assets, but the kind of treasure that, conversely, is more valuable than gold. Kindness, support, and if you are really lucky, inspiration. Last weekend I found this treasure in the most unlikely of places, Mountain Air community in North Carolina where the community members and the wounded veterans they host gathered on the mountain to raise funds for an amazing organization called Hidden Treasures – No Barriers USA.
For the last four years my son has been battling a seizure disorder. Little by little I have watched his spirit, freedoms, and childhood dreams slowly and painfully erode with each injury and seizure. As his mother, watching his pain and suffering is often more than I can bear. Our family and friends have been incredibly supportive of our journey and have been fighting alongside us to find a solution to Stephen’s condition and to keep him safe. I was introduced to No Barriers through a group of women that has banded together to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in September 2016. Their purpose is to show the world that what is within us is stronger than what is in our way. Their message is this: when women commit to supporting each other we can go further, be happier, and achieve more. This kind of woman-to-woman support is just what we long for and additionally need to better surmount life’s challenges.
An invitation for 10 women interested in becoming the change they wanted to see in the world was shared on social media five months ago. A colleague of mine told me about her commitment to this climb and encouraged me to check it out: http://kiliclimb2016.com/ I had no idea that putting myself in the application process and being chosen would lead to a personal transformation before I ever stepped foot outside of the USA.
No Barriers USA is a Non-Profit organization that started in 2003 to work with adults and children with disabilities. Their mission is to unleash the potential of the human spirit. Through transformative experiences, tools and inspiration, they help people embark on a quest to contribute their absolute best to the world. In the process, they foster a community of curious, brave and collaborative explorers who are determined to live the No Barriers Life. The No Barriers Warriors was added to the organization to specifically work with wounded veterans who have returned from war physically, mentally or emotionally wounded. You can learn more about them by visiting www.nobarriersusa.org
Our group of Kili climbers was invited to do a practice climb in North Carolina in preparation for our momentous climb in Africa. This practice climb was in conjunction with the No Barriers Warriors to raise funds for the organization so that more veterans could be helped
by this amazing program. What started out for me as an opportunity to prepare for climbing at a high altitude ended up showing me just how blessed I was to be a part of this amazing event. The warriors, two of whom are ladies climbing Kilimanjaro with our group, each told their stories throughout the weekend at various picnics, dinners and golf fundraisers. Their tales of depression, thoughts of suicide, and life changing wounds were overshadowed by their excitement for the No Barriers program and how it impacted their lives and the lives of their families. I cried as I listened to their stories of triumph in the face of what sounded like certain demise. They continue to overcome their challenges and to endure the sad truth about the lack of support for wounded veterans after they return home from battle – tattered and torn – from fighting for our liberties.
There are three personal truisms that I took away from my practice climb weekend that I will forever treasure:
- GRATITUDE FIRST: The liberties and freedoms that we experience everyday came at a high price that should be supported by all.
- TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAMWORK: Everything that we need to make it to the top of our own Kilimanjaro is within us, and what we lack will be supported by our team.
- BEING VULNERABLE ISN’T WEAK: Kindness exists if you are willing to be vulnerable and openhearted. Be optimistic about the kindness of others and the ability to find what you need.
I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Fabulously50+ Magazine, The Healing & Creative Arts Center, MyosRens Corp, The Vineyards Country Club and Global VCard for sponsoring my climb and my son Stephen’s daily climb to overcome our medical and emotional challenges. This climb has already been a positive force in my life which, of course, trickles down into the lives of my children. I would also like to thank the Mountain Air and The Cliffs at Walnut Cove communities and all of the amazing families in the two communities that donated their homes for lodging for the event, and donated to No Barriers USA to raise over $100,000 in the short four days for future No Barriers Warriors. The kindness and support these communities gave was in my eyes miraculous!
Many sponsors have contributed to the entire Kilimanjaro Climb and have provided the funds and supplies to make our climb possible. One sponsor is Smith & McCain, http://smithmccain.com/en/#!home, a fragrance and beauty company that believes that all women are beautiful and strong in their own image and should be celebrated and empowered. These two women were very excited to be a part of the team supporting http://kiliclimb2016.com/ and donated to the cause by giving each climber a sample of their signature scent that uniquely adapts to your own natural scent. Thank you, ladies. I can’t tell you how happy I am that while on a mountain for eight days with no shower, we will have this natural enhancement to bring more pleasant closeness despite the smell of sweat and grime that will be unavoidable.
This climb is our family’s vehicle for raising funds for Stephen to have a service dog. We are doing this climb-a-thon looking for pledges for every step that I climb, which will hopefully reach the summit 19,341 feet above sea level. Our hopes are that until we can find a solution for Stephen’s Grand Mal Seizures, this service dog will alert him when he is about to have a seizure, improve his emotional well being, and alert others when he needs-life saving help. If you are interested in meeting Stephen or pledging your support for Stephen you can visit our page at http://www.razoo.com/us/story/StephenGalarza
Thank you Thank you Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the sponsors and pledgers for your kindness and giving, which is truly the greatest gift of all!
Be sure to subscribe to receive Fabulously50+ Magazine’s upcoming Fall issue to read more about the mission and leaders of the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb and a wonderful on the philanthropic works of Lois Pope to honor and serve Wounded Veterans. Visit this link to secure your issue today. www.fabulously50.com/subscribe