Kili for the kids an emotional journey
TEARS streamed down Rhys Greedy’s face as he stared at the little faces of sick Coast kids 6000ft above sea level in Tanzania.
The youngsters of Nambour Hospital’s paediatric ward 2F West had been on the 28-year-old cancer survivor’s mind every step of his Kilimanjaro for the Kids quest.
A collage photo of their smiling faces was all the motivation Rhys needed to complete the challenge, which has raised almost $21,000 for the ward.
All six of the people who embarked on the adventure made it to the summit in just three days, an amazing feat given they were given a 75% chance of success by their Tanzanian guides.
The group reached the peak just as the sun was starting to break over the horizon at 6.30am on July 8.
“It was such an adrenaline rush,” Rhys said.
“But I had to duck away from the crowd to have an emotional moment to myself - a special moment on my own with the collage photo.
“I’ve lost count of how many times I choked up on the summit, the pinnacle of the entire campaign was having in mind the children all those thousands of kilometres away.”
Rhys paid tribute to the team who accompanied him, especially his sister Kate Greedy, who battled through “moderate to severe” altitude sickness to see the trek through.
The journey had a somewhat disastrous start, with flight cancellations eating into the 48-hour buffer Rhys had scheduled to overcome jet lag before they began the ascent.
“It was very stressful at the time, but we can laugh about it now,” he said.
“There was a lot of improvisation and we ended up on a flight from Kenya straight to Kilimanjaro to make up the time but once we had a sleep at the hotel and met up with the rest of the group, it was forgotten about.”
Day one of the trek had been “relativity easy” and Rhys said it has reminded him a lot of the Kokoda track as they walked through dense rainforest and jungle.
Day two saw them take on a barren desert landscape, while the third day - the toughest by far - took them through “Arctic” conditions.
“The physical aspect didn’t start hitting people until day three, when we reached 4700m. The elevation was really telling on people who hadn’t been in altitude before,” he said.
“We arrived at 3pm to base camp and we only had time to have a quick meal and rest up for a few hours and we were woken at 11pm and given an hour to get ready and took off in the cover of darkness.
“From there we had just our head lamps and one foot after the other and that’s when it becomes the most testing, mentally it was very tough.”
With the support of the community, Rhys smashed his original fundraising goal of $10,000 and those wanting to donate to enhance distraction therapy for the young patients can still do so.
Arriving back on the Coast at 2am on Monday morning, Rhys will visit the ward later in the week to present them with a framed photo of the group at the summit and spend some quality time with the little people that have touched his heart.
Visit https://www.giving.wishlist.org.au/kiliforkids to donate.