The team at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro .
(photo credit: YARIV DAGAN)
Twenty-year-old cancer survivor Noga Barkan and 13 other hikers braved the elements and extreme temperatures to complete a seven-day, 5,895-meter (19,340-foot) climb up Mount Kilimanjaro last week, in an effort to raise awareness and bring hope to children with life-threatening illnesses.
The team climbed from January 19 through 29 on behalf of Make-a-Wish Israel. The group included Barkan; founders of Make-a-Wish Israel Avi and Denise Bar-Aharon; Lior Haflon, from the TV series Ramzor; Dvir Benedek, from Sabri Maranan and HaMisrad, the Israeli version of The Office; as well representatives from corporate sponsors.
It was a life-changing experience for everyone involved, Avi Bar-Aharon told The Jerusalem Post
. “On the first day, when we started the climb at sea level, everyone was joking and singing. However, with each passing day, the level of difficulty and lack of oxygen increased. The mood became more serious and we all began to experience the power of nature and became humbled by the climb,” he said.
“The day we reached the summit, we all cried. All of us, who have experienced a lot of things in our lives, shared the same intense experience, together with the breathtaking scenery and the emotional bonding that took place throughout the week,” he added.
Noga Barkan, a rhythmic gymnast, had her wish fulfilled by Make-a-wish Israel in 2016, when she went to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Denise and her husband, Avi Bar-Aharon, started Make-a- Wish Israel after Denise lost her younger brother to cancer at the age of 28, in order to make a positive impact on children with life-threatening illnesses.
Denise was familiar with the Make-a-Wish Foundation from the United States, where she was raised, and approached the organization about founding a branch in Israel.
Since then, Make-a-Wish Israel has granted wishes to some 3,500 youths, who often find that the foundation’s encouragement helps them build the physical and emotional strength needed to fight a critical illness.