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Vernon man to lead virtual climb of Mount Kilimanjaro to fight poverty

The Sept. 17-23 event will coincide with an in-person climb of Africa’s highest mountain

He’s already conquered Africa’s highest mountain, and now a Vernon resident is helping people around the world conquer hunger and poverty, one step at a time.

James Woller is the executive director of Thrive for Good, a Canadian non-profit that’s worked to eradicate extreme poverty since 2008.

He’s training hard for an upcoming virtual fundraiser, Thrive on Kilimanjaro. From Sept. 17-23, participants can help climb the height of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest single free-standing mountain, by climbing stairs, walking or running.

Participants’ efforts will coincide with an in-person climb of Kilimanjaro by 68-year-old Dale Bolton, co-founder of Thrive.

Traversing Kilimanjaro’s 19,340 feet of elevation requires a five- to eight-day climb.

“I climbed Kili in 2008,” said Woller, “so I won’t be going on the trip. However, in solidarity, I will be running 70 kilometres in the north BX hills of Vernon during the week of Sept. 17-23 while the Thrive team is on Kilimanjaro. I will have my kids join me on their bikes.”

The virtual and live event aims to raise $500,000 – enough to plant 5,000 ‘life gardens,’ which are organic, bio-intensive gardens cultivated to grow the most nutrient-dense foods and natural, medicinal plants. They are typically a quarter acre of about 40, 100-square-foot double-dug garden beds where communities can grow disease-fighting foods such as spinach, kale, onions, garlic, carrots and natural medicines.

Life gardens are also economical. “I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that for $15, someone can eat the healthiest food in the world, sustainably,” said Woller, whose passion to help those in need drew him to Thrive.

Thrive has worked in eight countries, impacting nearly 800 communities and empowering 75,000 individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to grow their own health.

With the help of sponsors, the non-profit has put together some enticing prizes for participating in Thrive on Kilimanjaro, including an all-expense-paid trip to Kenya to see their work in-person. Other prizes include a one-week stay at a Penthouse at Walnut Beach Resort in Osoyoos; a one-year supply of Natural Calm, gift certificates towards Vita Garden, and more.

Prizes will be awarded to the individual/team captain who raises the most money in total.

To join the climb or learn more, visit

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Brendan Shykora
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Thrive on Kilimanjaro is a worldwide virtual event to raise $500,000 for the production of 5,000 sustainable ‘life gardens’ in poverty-stricken parts of the world. The event will engage people around the world to tackle the height of Mount Kilimanjaro Sept. 17-23, 2021. (Submitted photo)

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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