Three-year-old Tate St. Louis has a way of making even strangers fall in love with him.
His family says they would do anything for him, even hiking up the tallest mountain in Africa.
That’s exactly what they plan to do.
Tate’s uncles John and Jeff Amble, grandmother Jane Amble, along with aunt Terese Amble (Jeff’s wife), great-aunt Jodi Borgen and John’s girlfriend, Christina Mitsialis, plan to hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro this week.
The group hopes to use the trek as a fundraiser for Up With Downs, a Fargo-Moorhead-based organization co-facilitated by Tate’s mother, Liz St. Louis.
Up With Downs aims to improve the lives of individuals with Down syndrome and their families with education, support and activities.
“As soon as we decided that we wanted to use the trip to try to make a difference, we knew that Up With Downs was the organization we wanted to support,” John Amble said. “Our goal is to raise $5,895, one dollar for every meter of Mount Kilimanjaro’s vertical height.”
So far, the group has raised about $3,200.
The idea to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro sprung from a discussion between John Amble, his aunt Jodi and his mother, Jane, while they were visiting him in London, where he now lives.
An experienced climber, Amble said he has wanted to try Kilimanjaro for several years.
“My girlfriend said yes immediately, as did my brother and his wife. Once we all decided to do it, we thought that it would be a great opportunity to raise money for an important cause, and doing so for Up With Downs would make the trip so much more meaningful,” John Amble said.
While Borgen was also in right away – she hoped to one day climb Mount Kilimanjaro anyway – Jane Amble admits she needed a little convincing to make the climb.
“The more we talked about it … not only to do it for my family, but for a good cause, I was hooked,” Jane Amble said.
She said she has been training for about four to six months, hiking around the F-M area.
The group will arrive in Tanzania on Monday and begin their climb on Wednesday.
“The route we’re taking is called the Rongai Route, one of the least-used routes, and that begins on the northern side of the mountain, near the border with Kenya,” John Amble said.
Both Jane and Liz St. Louis said the adventure with a good cause was not a surprising proposition coming from John.
John graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2004 and served for several years as an intelligence officer in the US Army.
After deploying to Iraq, John moved to London and earned a master’s degree from King’s College London in 2010. He then deployed a second time and served in Afghanistan. He currently is back in school, completing a Ph.D. in Middle East studies.
Although John has lived many of the past years far from home, he and Tate are close.
“To have my family care enough to raise money for the group was just kind of amazing,” Liz St. Louis said.
Contributions to the climb and Up With Downs can be made at http://givemn.razoo.com/team/Kiliclimbers