Ossining Man Climbing New Heights as Role Model for Students

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2013 NWE 0806 Kurt KannemeyerAs director of development for St. Christopher’s, an organization dedicated to helping children with emotional, behavioral and learning disabilities, Kurt Kannemeyer doesn’t just talk the talk, he literally is walking the walk, 19,500 feet above sea level, to be a role model and demonstrate that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

“Many people think I’m crazy but I’ve been known as the one to do things unorthodox,” said Kannemeyer, a resident of Ossining. “This is an opportunity. Our kids face so many mountains in terms of their lifestyles and what they’ve had to overcome. I want to show that no mountain is unreachable, no dream is impossible.”

On August 18, Kannemeyer, 34, will begin a seven-day climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Part of his mission is to raise money for students at St. Christopher’s to make a return trip to South Africa, where he grew up and took five students to visit an AIDS orphanage in 2009.

“It has always been our hope to revisit the continent of Africa and for our kids to continue the meaningful work that they have begun,” Kannemeyer said. “This includes funding a perpetual garden and renovating 39 bathrooms for kids living with HIV/AIDS.”

Kannemeyer’s goal was to raise $25,000. So far, he has secured about $12,000 but expects to receive another $8,000 from a few upcoming fundraisers. St. Christopher’s is located in Dobbs Ferry and provides a residential program encompassing comprehensive therapeutic, social and family services coordinated with special education schooling for teens.

To prepare for the journey, Kannemeyer said he has been training at a gym, with much of his focus on strengthening his legs.

“I’m not a climber. I’m not a hiker. I’m not one for the outdoors,” he admitted. “No one can tell you how your body will react to the altitude. That’s pretty high up. I’m very excited. I’m so psyched.”

As he and three others head up the mountain, Kannemeyer will be camping outside with no shower or bathroom in sight. “We’ll be using a lot of baby wipes,” he quipped.

Kannemeyer is hoping to be able to record his adventure and is seeking someone to donate a GoPro.

“I’ve talked to some of the kids and listened to them share their stories,” he said. “The mountains that they’ve had to climb might seem insurmountable to some, but because of their endurance in the pursuit of something greater, our youngsters are still overcoming life’s adventures. I am climbing for them.”

Anyone looking to make a donation to Kannemeyer’s climb can contact him at (914) 648-0817.

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