Dream of Africa

I’m Hyrum Grissom, and you can find me on Instagram as Fat_boy_no_more.  

I am asking for your help reaching a lifelong dream of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.  The plan is to climb in March of 2019 with Radiating Hope. The price of the expedition is $3000usd, and an estimated $2000 for travel. Being from southern Arizona, I am prepared for most any heat that could be experienced, but do not have the clothing or equipment for a climb of this magnitude encountering the sheer diversity of weather and temperature.  The clothing and gear recommendations for a safe and prepared climb may be as high as $5500.

I am hoping to raise $9000 to fund and prepare for this expedition and I am asking for your help.  Please help me climb Mt Kilimanjaro.

My Story

In high school, I was an athlete, football player, and weightlifter, and as an Eagle Scout, I loved hiking Arizona’s wilderness and mountains.  I dreamed of one day climbing the iconic peaks of the world, of Fuji, Denali, Kilimanjaro & more.

However several broken bones affected my mobility and even ability to move and breathe starting in High School, and my weight started to climb. In college I got married, finished my bachelor’s degree and even went on to earn a master’s degree,  Entering the workforce to provide for my growing family, sitting in a cube from age 20 to 29 I continued to gain weight and my health continued to worsen as my family grew. 

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I suffered repeated Gout inflammation further limiting what I could physically do. Each step was filled with pain and even working with my Dr was unable to find relief.  Fatigue, depression and pain became my constant companions. 6 years ago, I was 29 years old & I hit 515lbs. I did not have the ability to climb stairs or walk for long periods let alone run, lift weights, and hike as I had enjoyed.  

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Several events in a short time convinced me that if I did not lose weight I was going to die, but a lifetime of ignorance and bad habits slowed me down.  I didn't know if I could ever be fit again.  But I thought, that MAYBE, maybe I could lose 100lbs.  I was too far gone to really exercise, still too controlled by my gout to go to the gym.  But I could control what I ate.  

I started counting calories using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone.  Slowly the pounds started to fade.  I lost my firs 80lbs without even going inside a gym.  I realized I wouldn't be satisfied with only losing 100lbs.  I reset my goal to 200lbs.  I kept going and the pounds continued to come off.  I started going to the gym.  I was able to get my gout under control.   I rediscovered how much I'd love moving and exercise.  I found my lifestyle change, rather than just another diet.   I added more to calorie control over the next few years, including intermittent fasting, and a variety of exercise and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

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I knew that focusing entirely on pounds on the scale would not be enough, and my intent was to re-gain or re-discover dreams that I had had as a young man.  I paid attention to weightlifters in competitions I once enjoyed. I started more closely following one of my personal heroes, Larry Daugherty, my cousin's husband, who as a husband & father had finished medical school and had gone on to become a Radiation Oncologist.  Traveling the world to climb mountains that had fascinated and enthralled ME as a young man, he inspired me. Climbing mountains returned to my dreams, and I decided I would be healthy enough to climb them.

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I started climbing hills and mountains near me. The first time I attempted climbing a short 2 1/2 mile hike near my home it took me nearly 6 hours to return to my vehicle, exhausted.  Working at it, that has become a warm-up for greater and more involved trails and climbs.

At 180lbs down I had another epiphany, 200lbs wasn't enough and set my sights on 300lbs.  And while I may never reach that without surgery, chasing that has become my mountain.  

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It has been 4 years, and I have lost 227 lbs. through diet and exercise.   Chasing my own goals and remembering dreams I had, I can run again.  I can hike.   I train with world class athletes and try to push myself daily with exercise and diet. I have been feverishly chasing the rest of my life.  We now have six children and bring them with us on our hikes and regional expeditions, helping them to love the world around them. I try to teach them to own their own health, so they will not repeat my own failures.  So that they can live their lives, to really live.  

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In the middle of July, my hero Larry invited me to go with him in March of 2019 to climb Mt Kilimanjaro with RadiatingHope which donates a portion of each climbers cost to Cancer treatment.  Once a childhood dream that I had lost, I am physically ready for the challenge. With your help, I will climb it.

The Mountain

When you think of Mountains in Africa, Kilimanjaro is the mountain most people immediately think of.  Its iconic of the sheer majesty of Africa.  We will be climbing the Machame Route of Kilimanjaro with a plan to take 8 days.  This will hopefully provide time to acclimate and avoid altitude sickness as we climb 12,000 feet, from the rain forest floor to Uhuru Peak (19,000 feet).  There are numerous challenges, including potential high levels of UV exposure, ice flows and volcanic rock, heavy wind and rain, and snow and heat are likely, necessitating a higher volume of equipment.  

Equipment

The expedition has a list of needed equipment, which I used against Alan Arnette’s excellent gear recommendations  to identify expected pricing.  Some of the things I am most in need of, if you or anyone you know has access to any of the following please reach out to me.

0° Down Sleeping Bag
2 Sleeping Pads, Inflatable and Close Foam
Certified Climbing Helmet
Four Season Tent
Glacier Glasses
Headlamp
Medium & Heavy Insulated Gloves/Mittens
3 - Medium Weight Merino Wool Base Layer
Hard Shell Jacket & Pants for encountered Rain
Insulated Parka
Water-Proof Hiking Boots
8 pair Medium weight Wool Socks
Quality Headlamp

Thank you for taking the time read my story, to hear my journey and my dream.  I am ready to climb Kilimanjaro, to look out over Africa, ready for life's next great challenge.  Thank you for your help getting there and being part of my dream.  
#GreaterMountains #dothework

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Organizer

Hyrum Grissom 
Organizer
Maricopa, AZ
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