On March 15, 2017, three athletes successfully summited at 19,341' on mountain bikes, the notorious Mt. Kilimanjaro. The world record setting event is known as Cycle Kili. This campaign is raising $1.96 million for the Treasures of Africa Children’s Home. The funds will specifically go toward constructing a new 5.4 acre campus, to be deemed, "The Treasures of Africa Children’s Village," which will include school buildings and a farm to grow food to feed the community.
An eclectic trio, including amateur MMA fighter, Tate Nelson, and former world-ranked tennis pro, Rob Nelson, and ironman James "Iron Cowboy" Lawrence successfully mountain biked up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro. The Cycle Kili adventure, completed in March of 2017, continues to raise $1.96 million for Treasures of Africa Children’s Home (TOA), a ministry that cares for orphans and abandoned children at the foot of the famous mountain.
“Someone on Facebook suggested it was a death wish,” said Rob Nelson. “I disagreed. I had every intention to summit and return alive! Thankfully our intentions were realized.”
Records were established with Tate Nelson now recognized as the youngest person in history to have mountain biked Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Rob Nelson acknowledged as the oldest person to accomplish the same.
“I am always inspired to break the limits of what people say can be done,” said Tate Nelson, a recent graduate from The University of Alabama. “No different than the challenges that so many of the TOA kids face in life. Our effort was pale in comparison to these children overcoming abandonment, abuse, and bullying. Their testimonies are what should garner world record recognition!”
The team chose the $1.96 million fundraising goal because of the altitude of the 19,000+ foot tall mountain.
Treasures of Africa Children’s Home is located in Moshi, Tanzania. The ministry provides loving care, nutritious food and an excellent bilingual education in a Christian family environment to orphaned and abandoned children. Founder, Rita Langeland, remembers observing the impact of the AIDS pandemic during her first visit to Tanzania in 2003.
“Though I had read newspaper accounts of the AIDS crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa, I was still shocked to see the human toll with my own eyes. The faces of children who had been orphaned touched me deeply. What kind of future could they possibly have? This served as part of the inspiration to launch TOA and provide a safe, nurturing environment that would change the lives of orphans, one child at a time.”
Rob Nelson learned about TOA when his child’s 5th grade teacher, Lydia Schaeffer, left Orange County to move to Tanzania to help Langeland establish Treasures of Africa Orphanage back in 2006.
“I’ve always had a drive to serve others, it’s how God’s wired me,” he said. “Especially a vision like TOA that takes the abandoned, the abused, and the discarded and raises them to one day make a difference in their communities.”
“To me, this ride is symbolic of what we want our children at Treasures of Africa to learn,” Langeland said. “We encourage them to dream big dreams about their futures and we teach them they can overcome every ‘mountain’ they face in life. These three brave men are taking on a monumental physical challenge in order to further TOA’s mission. We’re so thankful for their hearts and their dedication.”
The story of Diamond has become the inspiration of #CycleKili. As a newborn baby, Diamond was discovered thrown away in a pile of refuse in a rural area. She was brought to Treasures of Africa just a few weeks after they opened their doors in 2007.
Diamond has grown into a beautiful girl with a very sweet spirit and a contagious laugh. This diligent 10-year-old excels at school and wants to become a teacher when she grows up.
Lawrence and the Nelsons are inspired by Diamond’s story. The trio are currently training and raising money to build TOA’s dream of a new 5.4 acre campus. The Treasures of Africa Children’s Village will allow the ministry room to grow food for the orphanage and to construct the buildings needed to give more children like Diamond, a hope-filled future.