For many, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is the experience of a lifetime.
For Vincent McDonnell, parent of one-year-old Evie, a member of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, it’s about raising worthwhile funds for the local charity.
Vincent, who is originally from Cork, has been living in the city’s Belt Road area for five years with his wife Laura and children, Callum (6) and Evie (1).
Little Evie, as well as having Down Syndrome, has had to undergo major heart surgery in her short life, which has seen her spend time in Altnagelvin, Belfast and even, a trip to London for surgery at St. Thomas Hospital.
Thankfully, the toddler is now on her way to full health.
For Vincent, the last two years has been thinking of something worthwhile and ‘fundraisy’ to help out the Trust.
After much consideration he has settled on the small task of climbing the 19,341 ft Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa – the highest mountain in the continent and the tallest free standing mountain in the world!
Vincent explains: “I’ve been living and working in the city now for five years, and currently work as a Health and Safety Consultant with local firm Zenith Learning Ltd in Springtown.
“When Evie was born, Laura and myself were delighted with the support and counselling which we got from the management and staff of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust.
“After the complications with Evie I set out with trying to give something back and came up with the novel idea of the climb.
“After all, I’m fairly fit and train regularly so its something I believed I was capable of achieving.
“I set out with a fundraising target of £6,000 and set up an online fundraising page on Virginmoneygiving which I posted on social media.
“Myself and Laura have organised multiple fundraising events locally in the city and in my hometown in Cork over the past 10 months.
“The support and donations from people has been phenomenal, not just in Derry but also people in my native Cork as well.”
Vincent’s ascent up Kilimanjaro will start on Wednesday, August 14, lasting for seven days - five days ascent of the mountain and two days to return to base camp.
“It’s a ten-hour flight to Tanzania and then a two-hour internal flight to get to the mountain area.
“I’ve been in training for over a year now and have reached the summit of most of the mountain ranges across Ireland in my time but this is something totally different – a real challenge!”
The father of two has also completed a lot of high intensity and endurance training, and feels he has now peaked and ready for the challenge ahead in a few weeks time.
Lending full support to Vincent’s venture, Christopher Cooper, manager, FDST said: “We are all rooting for Vincent in his upcoming climb of what will be a most difficult venture.
“He is the talk of the place among parents here at the Trust and we all wish him the best.
“Raising so much money for what we are trying to achieve here is more than welcome.
“We all look forward to a big welcome home party on his successful return too!”
The ‘adopted’ Derry man sets off on his journey on Wednesday, August 14.
For anyone wishing to donate please contact Foyle Down syndrome Trust on 02871 343991, or contact Vincent directly on 07503111940.
Alternatively, anyone wishing to donate can log on to the donation page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/VincentMcDonnell