R.A. Dickey, the Mets pitcher, will climb Mount Kilimanjaro in January, in part to raise awareness for the Bombay Teen Challenge, an organization that rescues and cares for women and girls in Mumbai who are at risk of being abused and exploited. His posts will appear occasionally in Bats.
R.A. Dickey has had to wear an elevation training mask during his preparation for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
“Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai ‘Ngaje Ngai,’ the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.” ― Ernest Hemingway
It was seventh grade when I first read those words from Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” I’m not sure why they stuck with me so vividly through the next 24 years. Perhaps it was the spiritual component that struck me, or the frozen leopard as a possible symbol of dauntless perseverance. Either way, I indelibly connected with it.
So here I am, a 37-year old New York Met and Hemingway aficionado, a month away from attempting to ascend Uhuru Peak, the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim on Mount Kilimanjaro. What started as a personal pilgrimage has transformed into a joint effort with an outreach called Bombay Teen Challenge. Since 1990, Bombay Teen Challenge has worked to rescue and rehabilitate destitute and desperate people living on the streets and in the red light district of Mumbai.
These people include women trapped in prostitution through sex trafficking, their at-risk daughters and other girls vulnerable to the sex industry; street children who are in danger of being abused and exploited; and H.I.V.-positive orphans who have been abandoned or orphaned. As I am the father of two daughters, ages 9 and 8, the thought of my own being subjected to the atrocities that happen every day in the brothels and on the streets of Kamathipura is heartbreaking. My hope is that the climb up Kilimanjaro will help bring awareness to a cause that is in need of attention and support.
Read more from the New York Times article with R.A. Dickey, Kevin Slowey, a pitcher for the Colorado Rockies and Dave Racaniello, the bullpen catcher for the Mets.