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Northern Michigan Family Plans to Climb Kilimanjaro for a Cause

Updated: Nov 14, 2023


GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- The Chefalo family has taken a lot of trips over the past few years for the holidays.

They've gone to places like Madrid, Paris, Rome, and London. However, this year they say they wanted to do something different and take on a challenge.

On December 22nd, they plan to travel to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

"It's really for us about the journey and spending time together and enjoying the time together," said Shenandoah Chefalo.

For Shenandoah, it's about more than just family time.

She spent her childhood bouncing from home to home, moving more than 50 times before she turned 18.

She's hoping to show kids in similar situations what's possible.

"To be sitting here thinking in less than 25 days I'll not only be in Tanzania but climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, that's a long way from a kid in foster care who faced homelessness numerous times who faced a lot of adversity," said Shenandoah. "If a girl who aged out of the foster care system can make it to the peak of Kilimanjaro then to me anything's possible for any youth that's in foster care or anyone who's facing something really difficult that they think they can't overcome."

The Chefalo's already have their trip paid for, but they are hoping to raise awareness for a cause that's near and dear to their hearts.

They are asking people to donate to the Crossnore School and Children's Home, a nonprofit organization in North Carolina that provides homes for foster children even after turning 18.

"It's really important that people realize how important Crossnore's education system is and how many people it helps and by helping foster care youth we will really build a better society for America," said Shenandoah's 16-year-old daughter Sophia.

The Chefalo's say that while they've hiked before this climb will likely pose challenges with high elevations and different environmental changes.

But knowing that the kids are at Crossnore are behind them gives them motivation.

"I wanna make sure we show them that we did our best. We gave our best effort to try to make this climb I know they'll be rooting for us and it's gonna be an added incentive thinking about all of these people that want to see us succeed," said Gerald Chefalo, Shenandoah's husband.

"The reward of doing it and trying my best no matter if I get to the top or not is going to be really rewarding," said Sophia.

Shenandoah plans to live stream part of their climb on Facebook.

You can also follow the family's journey with the hashtag #ChefaloforCrossnore.

If you would like to donate to Crossnore, click here.

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