Climbing for Katrina Mt. Ellis Academy Students Climb for Hope

Every labor day since the 1930s, MEA students have climbed Mt. Ellis, and climbing 3,000 vertical feet to the peak this year was no different. When Hurricane Katrina struck, the decision was made to climb Mt. Ellis again, this time with pledges. More than 50 students from Mount Ellis Academy braved the snow, wind and muddy trails on Sept. 11 to climb to the top. This time they did not climb for tradition, exercise or entertainment. Instead, they climbed for the opportunity to make a difference in the world around them. They climbed for Katrina victims.

“I imagined myself in their [Katrina victims] position and would want someone to help me,” said Miriam Davis, MEA senior. “It feels like I am actually working to make a difference; climbing a mountain seems like nothing next to losing your house and your family,” said Kelly Ree, MEA junior.

The challenge was given to students to obtain ten pledges of $10 each, in three days. Since 50 students had signed up for the climb, the goal was set to raise $5,000. The students began calling friends and family in between classes and work. “You think about how much they don’t have and how much you do; ten dollars doesn’t seem like very much, but to them, it may be,” said Anna Berg, MEA senior.

When teenagers are motivated for God, they can exceed their own greatest expectations. As the climbers trekked through the coarse terrain to the peak, the pledges were counted. They totaled $10,000. With local newspaper and radio coverage, the total continues to climb daily.

Working with the community to adopt a sister city in Louisiana, MEA piloted the fund-raising efforts. Students have been interviewed live on the local Christian radio station, and news personnel are amazed by the students' caring, generous spirits.

The Mt. Ellis climb has always provided life lessons that stay with the students long after they graduate. Motivation, leadership, endurance, respect and appreciation for God’s creation have all been topics of discussion after a climb. This year, however, the students have discovered their abilities to make a difference in the world around them. However insignificant their efforts may seem at first, like a mustard seed, they may add up to over $10,000.

October 01, 2005 / Montana Conference