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September 16, 2016

Mt. Kilimanjaro climb will benefit Special Olympics

Blaine Wiltse, a 1994 Fauquier High graduate, regularly hikes Sugarloaf Mountain near Frederick, Md., to help prepare for the Kilimanjaro climb.
A Fauquier native plans to climb the tallest freestanding mountain in the world to raise money for a local Special Olympics team.

Blaine Wiltse, 39, will start his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro on Oct. 4 and should reach the summit on Oct. 10, his 40th birthday.

Mr. Wiltse decided to use his climb “as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics, something that I’ve been involved with all my life.”

He hopes to raise $5,000 for the Fauquier Special Olympics.

Donations will go toward equipment and venue expenses for Special Olympic athletes.

Mr. Wiltse plans to climb 19,341 feet to the summit, Uhuru Point, in 5-1/2 days.

The entire trip will take about seven days.

“Mountains are metaphors for life and life’s challenges . . . . in the larger context with regard for Special Olympics, these athletes face hurtles every day with certain disabilities . . . and they have hope and courage to go forward every day,” Mr. Wiltse said.

To train for the journey, he has hiked Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland, “doing nine-mile hikes on the weekends and I exercise a lot . . . . The biggest concern is altitude sickness.”

He will carry a flag with athletes’ signatures and the names of people and organizations that donated to the fundraiser.

Spending time with special needs children “was always a part of my life growing up,” he said. “I feel really lucky to have had that experience.”

His mother Lin, a retired special education teacher, has been a Special Olympics volunteer for more than 30 years.

A 1994 Fauquier High School graduate, Mr. Wiltse volunteered with the local Special Olympics growing up.

He lives in Arlington and works as an international trade analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Special Olympics is a global non-profit sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Local athletes compete in the Rappahannock region throughout the year in basketball, bowling, swimming, tennis and track and field. FHS hosts the track and field events each spring.
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