Gilbert Woman to Hike Kilimanjaro to Raise Money for Charity

In Swahili, hakuna matata translates to "no worries."

Laura BarnesLaura Barnes of Gilbert uses these words immortalized by the Disney movie "The Lion King" to assuage the fears of her 11-year-old son Henry about her upcoming charity trek of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the African country of Tanzania.

"Kilimanjaro? Hakuna matata," Barnes says jauntily to Henry, who's troubled that the name of the mountain starts with the consonant "kil." 

Hakuna matata was far from what Barnes' parents felt 40 years ago when their daughter was diagnosed with a hole in her heart.

Barnes was 4 then and living in the village of Hartford in northwest England.

"I cannot even begin to imagine the fear and the terror they were going through," she said. "But they didn't show it to me."

When she turned 10, Barnes had open-heart surgery at Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital.
It was a success. But something endured besides the long scar. Barnes viewed it as a turning point in her young life.

"My life had to be something of purpose because it was a life saved, and my studies took me to education and working with children," she said.

Throughout her adult years and stays in foreign countries with her husband, Kim, Barnes worked with youth.

Years later in Gilbert, she became a life coach at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, a job she still holds. She also runs her own life-coach business, Your Potential Power.

She volunteers as the vice-chair of the Human Relations, Culture and Arts Promotion Commission, where she is a vocal proponent of engaging in diversity issues.

But on her "bucket list," an outstanding item remained: to give back to the hospital that saved her life.
Barnes' trek on Mt. Kilimanjaro on September 21 is tied to raising $5,000 for the Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, which is aligned with the hospital. Its fundraising branch, supported by Yoko Ono, is called Imagine Appeal.

Already there is $2,000 in the kitty raised with the help of family and friends and publicized via her Facebook page. She's hoping her undertaking will spur more donations.

Although a keen walker and hiker, Barnes hasn't ventured beyond hiking the Grand Canyon.

Kilimanjaro, which comprises three dormant volcanoes, is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and commands a height of 19,000 feet. Virtually every ecosystem on earth -- glacier, snowfields, deserts, alpine moorland, savannah and tropical jungle -- is found on this mountain.
Barnes will journey with a group of individuals who are all fundraising for various causes.

Despite the company, she's not devoid of niggling worries.

"A million things (to worry about), of course," she said. "Is it going to stop me? No. I know I can do it. I just have to literally put one foot in front of the other and make myself do it."

She plans to do the trek over 10 days, giving her body time to acclimatize and get used to the high altitude, which is the biggest challenge of the trip.

Again, she reverts to Swahili to describe her trek.

It will be "pole pole," she says.

"Slow slow."

Help Laura Barnes reach fundraising goal

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Article source - The Arizona Republic


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