Record-holding mountaineer Apa Sherpa wants to elevate teachers and students in Nepal
What: From Sea to Summit: Apa Sherpa Foundation Fundraiser
When: 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, March 7
Where: Westgate Resort and Spa, 3000 Canyons Resort Dr., Park City
Apa Sherpa, the Nepal-based porter who holds the world record of climbing Mount Everest 21 times, is in the middle of another mission.
He is the co-founder and president of the Apa Sherpa Foundation, a nonprofit that supports teachers and their students in the Khumbu region of Nepal, near Mount Everest. The foundation will host its From Sea to Summit fundraiser gala on Saturday at Westgate Resort and Spa at Park City Mountain Resort.
Registration is open through Friday, March 6, and the money will be used for teachers’ salaries and to provide hot lunches to the students, said the foundation’s president and co-founder Jerry Mika.
“The whole focus is for Apa to give back to his country and help educate children,” said Mika, the foundation’s president. “We do that by supporting six teachers, and also supporting the students in that area who are between the ages of 5 and 10.”
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The Khumbu region rises 11,500 feet, more than. 3.5 kilometers, above sea level, and the children often walk up to three miles to get to school, according to Sherpa.
The foundation partners with the Thule Group, a Swedish outdoor products firm, to provide each of these students with a hot lunch every day, he said.
“We need to support our teachers,” said Sherpa, who is sponsored by Thule. “If we don’t, the kids won’t get an education, and they won’t be able to eat.”
Sherpa said his dream is to provide education to future generations, because his road to education was cut short due to a tragedy.
“When I was a child, I was selected out of my family of six children to go to school, and my dream was to become a doctor,” he said. “Unfortunately, when I was 12, my father passed away and (I) had no choice but to stop going to school to support my family.”
Sherpa worked as a mountaineer porter who would carry his body weight in supplies for adventurers who wanted to summit Mount Everest.
“Once I became a porter, I still wanted to help other children get an education,” he said. “I didn’t want the young kids to have to take risks to fulfill their dreams of getting an education.”
Saturday’s fundraiser will include a social hour, a silent auction, dinner and opportunity drawing, said Mika.
In addition, the night will feature a keynote address by another Thule athlete, Garrett McNamera, who set the world record in 2012 by surfing on a 78 foot wave at Nazaré, Portugal.
“Garrett, who is currently training in Portugal for his next wave, will talk about his life,” Mika said. “It’s interesting because he’s 52 now, and didn’t start surfing until later in life.”
A screening of Eric Crossland’s 2018 documentary “Loved by All: The Story of Apa Sherpa,” will follow McNamara’s comments.
“I’m very happy with the film,” Sherpa said. “I wanted to share my story, and be proud to be in that movie.”
The film retraces Sherpa’s life, but also showcases what he does today when he goes back to Khumbu.
“Every year, from April to May, we take people to Everest Base Camp,” Mika said. “Along the way, Apa stops at the schools and introduces the people to the students and teachers, and explains what we do. It really opens people’s eyes to how much these students want to learn, and how dedicated these teachers are to these students.”
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