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  • Customer Spotlight: Steve is Tackling Kilimanjaro for Leukaemia Foundation

    Time to shine the spotlight on a customer of ours doing exceptional things! Steve Kelsall contacted us to let us know about a major fundraising event that he is undertaking to help support the Leukaemia Foundation. He has decided to tackle Mount Kilimanjaro with a goal of raising $20,000.

    We've asked Steve to share some insights into his background and his reasons for undertaking this challenge. Prepare to be moved and inspired!

    If you're interested in helping Steve by donating, please visit http://my.leukaemiafoundation.org.au/StevesKiliClimb2017

    1. Tell us a little about you, your story and what has compelled you to take on this challenge?

    I'm 47, a single father of a beautiful 17 year old daughter named Gemma. I have been working in Information Technology for over 27 years. I train in the gym regularly, enjoy obstacle racing, landscape photography and travelling. I'm always up for an adventure! I also fundraise for charity and community groups. I also share some of my time volunteering for Cancer Council Victoria, which includes Community Speaking and providing phone support to cancer patients and carers; as well as volunteering with a number of Star Wars costume groups, who provide character appearances free of charge for charity and community events.

    I was inspired to take in this challenge as a result of my experiences with cancer, blood cancer and the Leukaemia Foundation in particular.

    My wife, Anne, battled a rare blood cancer for 6 years before sadly loosing her battle in early 2012.

    A close friend of ours; Mark, who we met as a result of Anne's illness and who was also diagnosed with the same disease but fortunately survived it; was diagnosed with leukaemia in late 2015 and underwent a Stem Cell transplant earlier this year, which has been successful to date, given him a second chance at life.


    1. Why Kilimanjaro?

    As a result of previous fundraising for the Leukaemia Foundation, I was advised of a fundraising challenge happening in May 2017; the Kilimanjaro Challenge.

    The Leukaemia Foundation partnered with Inspired Adventures, organise various fundraising challenges each year. They vary in terms of the actual end challenge location. In this case it just happened to be Mount Kilimanjaro.

    Although I didn't have a dream to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but have always wanted to travel to Africa, when I saw an opportunity to combine fundraising for the Leukaemia Foundation and face a personal challenge as big as Kilimanjaro, I knew this was something I had to do.

    Conquering Kilimanjaro for me is I guess somewhat representative of some of the challenges I've had to face in life to date:

    • My wife being suddenly diagnosed with a life threatening illness (blood cancer) in 2006, resulting in her spending multiple lengths of time in hospital
    • Being the primary carer for Anne for 6 years while juggling raising a daughter and work
    • Anne unexpectedly loosing her battle in early 2012
    • Me being diagnosed with cancer in 2013
    • Close friend being diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2015.

    I'm dedicating my climb in memory of Anne and in celebration of Mark's second chance at life.

    1. Why the Leukaemia Foundation?

    Because of my wife having had blood cancer and friend leukaemia, who was supported by the Leukaemia Foundation for 6 months pre, during and post his Stem Cell transplant.

    1. Why $20,000?

    I have to raise a minimum of $4,000 by February 2017 in order to qualify to actually go to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, which I very thankfully have already exceeded. However when it came to setting a fundraising goal, I chose $20,000 as an ambitious stretch-target more than anything. I'd absolutely love to exceed it, but will be extremely proud to reach the goal I have set. It will also make my journey to summit Kilimanjaro even more special.

    1. Have you ever done anything like this before?

    I've fundraised before, but never anything near the target I've set, nor have I ever done anything like Kilimanjaro before. So a first in both respects making it a true challenge.

    1. Thinking about the trek ahead of you, what feelings come to mind?

    Based on the support I've received to date, and not just monetary, I feel inspired to give this my all, but I know it's going to challenge me both physically and mentally. Based on the reasons why I'm doing the challenge I'm saddened by the events that have happened to get me to where I am today, plus there's the unknowns, especially how my body will cope and reach to the increasing altitude and cold. So I also feel somewhat anxious. But at the opposite end of the scale, I'm also very excited about the whole experience and the lifelong memories it's going to create.

    1. What do you hope to achieve from completing this trek?

    I hope to inspire others that it's possible to overcome personal tragedy and adversity, to make a difference in the world; however small, and perhaps even inspire others to do the same, similar, or even just volunteer some of there time to help a charity and/or community group.

    1. Can you provide your training plan, and how it will adapt in the lead up to your trek?

    I am currently training 4 days (sessions) a week; three of those are with my Personal Trainer  with one of those sessions specifically focused on preparing me for Kilimanjaro. It's also that session my Trainer is providing free of charge as part of his sponsorship of me and the Challenge.

    For the next 3 months Brent will have me continuing to focus on building muscular strength through compound movements especially in the lower body and core. We will be working through a range of exercises and utilising movements relatable to what I will be experiencing on the trek.

    As we closer to departure Brent will have me focusing on muscular endurance and expanding my lung capacity and mental aptitude to handle the intensity of his trek.

    1. Can you provide your nutrition plan, and how it will adapt in the lead up to your trek?

    To assist me with my heavy weightlifting I am eating in surplus to maintain Muscle Building & Repair from the strenuous weight lifting that is being undertaken. As I get closer to departure for the trek my calorie intake will be progressively reduced to a deficit helping me ease in to a lower calorie diet that will be expected on the trek.

    1. What has been the biggest challenge you've faced so far?

    Definitely the fundraising. I'm training regularly to prepare for the physical and mental challenges I know I'm going to face, but finding ways to increase fundraising has certainly been a challenge.

    Sure family and friends have contributed, but there's only so much they can donate and when you set a fundraising goal like I have, it's an even greater ask.

    Sponsorship is one area that I've been working on, but aside from my Personal Trainer, I haven't been able to attract or secure any other sponsors to date.

    I know it's a big ask for a stranger or business to support someone they don't know and/or perhaps a charity they know little about, but I know from my first hand experience with the Leukaemia Foundation, that they are doing great things to support individuals and their families through what is a very stressful and difficult time.

    1. What do you anticipate to be the biggest challenge from now until the completion of your trek?

    Working on facing the mental challenges and training for the altitude.

    I know from having completed physical challenges in the past that your mind plays a big part in conquering the physical.

    Obviously living in Australia we don't have any mountains as high as Mount Kilimanjaro. So training and getting an opportunity to test my body for the altitude is going to be difficult, but fortunately not impossible.

    Fortunately I've managed to find two fitness clubs in Melbourne that have an Altitude Training Chamber, which can simulate up to 5,000 metres. I'll be trekking higher than that; almost 6,000, but training in such a chamber is better than none at all. The cost to use the Chamber isn't cheap, but one that I will try and raise some funds for, as I see it as a great benefit to preparing me for Kilimanjaro.

    1. Why did you ask us to support you with this challenge?

    Because your Vision and Values align with my challenge.

    Your Vision states that you want to help people in Australia (and around the world) with their fitness, health and nutrition.

    This challenge requires all of the above in order to succeed. Plus I, too, want to help people through fundraising for the Leukaemia Foundation.

    One of your core Values is Perseverance. I have no intentions of ever giving up!

    1. What has been your experience as a customer of Amino Z?

    I've had nothing but great service and great products from Amino Z.

    If you're interested in helping Steve by donating, please visit http://my.leukaemiafoundation.org.au/StevesKiliClimb2017

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