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Alumnus climbs mountains to help teens overcome obstacles

by Barb Boose No Comments

Brandon-Kibby

To help transform the lives of kids in need, Brandon Kibby, D.O.’97, climbs mountains – literally. This year, he’d like your help.

Kibby plans to climb Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua in November with Summit for Someone, the fundraising component of Big City Mountaineers (BCM), a nonprofit organization that benefits under-served urban youth. He has committed to raising at least $8,800 to cover some of his costs, with the balance benefiting BCM.

“The charity is compelling because I get to do something I enjoy while raising money for a great cause,” he says.

Funds raised by Summit for Someone climbers pay for less-extreme BCM expeditions for at-risk urban teens to foster their life skills, self-esteem and responsibility, while reducing their likelihood of dropping out of school, using drugs and engaging in violence.

A pediatric anesthetist at Riley Hospital and the Indiana University North Hospital in Indianapolis, Kibby ventured on his first Summit for Someone climb in 2010. He scaled the Mexican volcanoes Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl, the third- and seventh-highest mountains in North America. He’s also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, at 19,340 feet.

In addition to benefiting a worthy charity, Kibby says climbing Aconcagua will let him reach a personal goal. The Andes peak is one of the world’s Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents; at 22,841 feet, Aconcagua is the world’s highest mountain outside of Asia.

“It will let me break that 20,000-foot barrier,” he says. “After I climbed Kilimanjaro, that idea got in my head and I couldn’t get rid of it.”

Mountain-climbing has also put unforgettable images in Kibby’s head: cold, clear nights on the mountainside when the stars seem within reach. Sunrise on a mountain glacier, when the colors are “amazing,” the clouds are below you and “sometimes you can see so far you can almost make out the curvature of the earth.”

He carries lasting lessons taught by those images and memories, including the children who surrounded and high-fived him on a street in Tanzania and the poverty he saw in Mexico and Africa.

“You truly do not know until you see it. In Africa the people, especially the children, smiled so much and so genuinely and literally had nothing but a shack, dirty water and trash,” he says. “I felt blessed to see them and meet some. But I also was embarrassed and ashamed for the blessings I have.”

Those blessings include his wife, Jamie, and their three children, who endorse his goals of raising funds for BCM and reaching the top of Aconcagua. He’ll be in Argentina for about three weeks for the climb; until then, he’s training in flat Indiana with an increasingly heavy weight vest, stair machine and treadmill.

Kibby is also asking everyone he knows to support his endeavor. Interested donors can find his name and make gifts at www.summitforsomeone.org/donate.

“I will be pushing my personal limits physically and mentally so that, with your help and my summit attempt, the BCM program can continue to reach over 300 at-risk teens nationwide,” he pledges on the organization’s website. “Please help me to help the future of our nation.”

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