Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was long a dream of Dennis and Mary Pat James. When they decided to make that dream a reality, they also continued their support for St. Jude.
For more than a decade, the Jameses, both 54, have run as St. Jude Heroes during the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. In 2015, the couple decided to tie their mountain climb into their fundraising.
The Jameses set a goal to raise $1 for every foot of Kilimanjaro’s elevation — $19,341 in all — for St. Jude. They raised $16,114 for St. Jude by reaching out to friends and members of the community.
Dennis said climbing Africa’s tallest mountain was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and an incredible experience. “That’s why we decided to go big and set that really lofty goal,” he said.
Kilimanjaro does not require technical skill to climb; no ropes and pulleys are needed. It took the Jameses eight days, six to ascend and two to descend, to navigate the mountain in September with a group that included professional guides.
Dennis is director of student services for Madison City Schools in Alabama, and was an elementary school principal when he began his involvement with St. Jude.
“As educators we have a responsibility to teach kids the importance of giving back,” Dennis said. “When you have the power, you should help people.”
The Jameses ran the 2015 Memphis marathon as part of a five-person relay team, one of three relay teams from Madison City Schools.
Dennis and Mary Pat toured St. Jude during the pre-race pasta party event when they first began running as St. Jude Heroes. After completing the tour, Dennis said he knew St. Jude was a place he wanted to support.
“Anything I can do to help St. Jude, I’m all in,” Dennis said.
Are you inspired by Dennis and Mary Pat James? Set your 2016 resolution goal with St. Jude.