On February 1st I took the names of 49 and tucked them between the folds of a neatly folded Pride flag. For the next 10 days they were secure in the comfort of my backpack. They would be the driving force up Kilimanjaro.

Bronwyn and I were on a mission…. these 49 deserved the respect of rising above all the hatred that had taken them from us.

The climb started on February 6th. Always aware that on my back I carried 49 innocent, vibrant memories. For 6 days Bronwyn and I climbed through a tropical rainstorm, extreme desert heat, a snow/sleet storm…. our guides keeping us going with their encouraging words, ever careful that we were hydrated and nourished knowing full well that the cargo I carried was precious.

On February 11th we reached Base Camp. We had climbed to just on 16,000 feet. Altitude had become my enemy, lack of oxygen sucked my energy, breathing had become difficult, loss of appetite had put me at high risk and in danger if climbing to the 19,300 feet summit. Gale force winds had set in adding an additional danger to the upcoming 8 hour arctic freezing climb. I suited up my 5 layers ready to go however, after the advise of Bronwyn and our trusted guides the decision was made that Bronwyn would complete our mission.

Bronwyn left camp at 11pm February 11th reaching Kilimanjaro summit on February 12th at 7.28am. With the sunrise peeking below her she took the flag out, opening every fold with pride, joy and respect of 49.

We will never forget them.

IMAGINE the world will be as one……John Lennon.

#orlandostrong #weareorlando #neverforget