Vickroy: Sisters to take on Kilimanjaro for charity
Donna Vickroy firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5982 May 9, 2012 9:56PM
Mary Murphy, 24, (left) and sister Maggie Murphy, 23, hold an itinerary for their climb of Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
To buy tickets for the
June 1 White Sox game, visit brownpapertickets.com/event/246066
For information on VSO Charities’ Mount Kilimanjaro climb, visit treks.vso.org.uk/kili2012/cause
For information on Mary and Maggie Murphy’s fundraising status, visit justgiving.com/team/murphytrek or justgiving.com/mary-murphy or justgiving.com/maggiemurphy01
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:06AM
If they could, Mary and Maggie Murphy would move mountains to end world poverty.
Since that’s not feasible, they’ll settle for climbing one.
The Evergreen Park sisters plan to scale Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in August.
They’ll do it for the challenge, for the adventure and, mostly, for the chance to help make life more bearable for people struggling to get by in developing countries.
“I thrive in challenging environments,” Maggie, 23, said. An environmental engineering graduate of Rice University, Maggie works for Accenture in Smart Grid Services. Since high school, she has spent her summers and other free time helping various organizations address environmental and health problems around the world. That work has included clearing trails with a sledgehammer in the Pacific Northwest, helping HIV patients plant keyhole gardens in Lesothu, Africa and helping to install a water filtration distribution system in El Salvador.
She learned about the Tanzania trip through her work.
Her 24-year-old sister also has been active in humanitarian work. Mary, an engineering graduate from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and now a consultant for IBM, has helped rid trails of poison oak in Oregon and has cut down trees to increase habitat space for butterflies.
Though neither woman has a history of mountain climbing, both feel they’re up for the challenge that the 19,000-foot volcano presents.
Maggie is an avid marathoner and Mary plans to tackle some smaller cliffs in the Smokey Mountains before the Aug. 24 launch of their adventure.
They’ll spend six days making their way to the top, along the Rongai route. They’re expected to arrive at the peak just as the sun rises on the sixth day. Then they’ll take one day to climb back down.
“We’ll go through five climate changes along the way, from rainforest to Arctic,” Mary said. That means they’ll have to pack for drastic temperature shifts.
“The altitude will be intense,” Mary said.
“Yeah,” Maggie added, “that’s the X factor, the one thing we can’t plan or train for.”
The sisters admit they’re adrenaline junkies. But they’re also blessed with big hearts.
“Charity is a big part of this trip,” Mary said. “I feel an obligation to help.”
Their definition of helping begins with choosing service groups that encourage impoverished people to develop skills and take ownership of their futures.
“We like when aid focuses on building skills and creating opportunities for the people who live in a given area,” Mary said.
Empowering others, Maggie said, “is how we feel aid should be handled.”
“It’s the whole give a man a fish and he eats for one night, teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime,” Mary said.
The Kilimajaro climb will benefit Volunteer Service Organization Charities. VSO is a group of volunteers who strive to empower the poor with skills and opportunities. The Murphys are hoping to raise $3,400 each through a variety of fundraisers that double as fun outings.
For example, they’ve purchased a block of tickets for the June 1 White Sox game. They’re selling them for $26 each, with the proceeds going toward their fundraising goal.
“We’re trying to make the fundraising end of it fun for people,” Mary said.
Maggie said she and her sister have been asked by friends and extended family why they choose to help people in foreign lands.
“That is not a debate I engage in. Why should someone criticize anyone helping anyone?” Maggie said. “If you’re going to be against something, be against something bad, not against someone helping others.”
Their mother, Nancy Murphy, said she tried to instill gratitude in all five of her children. “We’re very lucky, we’ve had lots of opportunities. Others have not.”
Maggie said, “My father always said ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’”
Mark Murphy said he could not be prouder of his daughters
“My mother used to say to me that you hope to leave this world a little better than you found it,” he said. “I am grateful that I can at least donate a couple of bucks here and there to good causes but I am most pleased that my own children can contribute in concrete ways.”