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Friday, July 25, 2014 | Last updated: 12:42pm

UA alumni to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, raise money for Make a Difference



Three UA alumni are traveling to Tanzania this summer to volunteer with and raise money for Make a Difference, a nonprofit organization that operates an orphanage in Tanzania.

Two of the alumni will climb Mount Kilimanjaro and one will volunteer at an orphanage.

Stephanos Antoniades, a UA management information systems graduate from 1990, and Alyssa Samuelson, a business administration graduate from 2000, will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with one of the organization’s planned charity climbs. Olga Tsoudis, Antoniades’s wife and a UA sociology graduate from 1993, will be volunteering at the orphanage during the trip, which the organization runs and operates.

All the money raised by the three will go toward sending the children to school, according to Theresa Grant the founder and executive director of Make A Difference.

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Volunteers climb Mount Kilimanjaro to help raise money for Make a Difference, a non-profit organization that operates an orphanage in Tanzania. Two UA alumni will join the list of volunteers to climb the mountain this summer. (Photo courtesy of Theresa Grant)

“Unlike most organizations, we focus on a small number of kids to give them better care,” Grant said. “The typical situation that you find is ‘go high with your numbers’ and a lot of the organizations don’t know the children nor do they know what is going on with them, so we really try to spend time getting to know the kids and utilizing resources nearby.”

Make A Difference became a registered non-profit organization in 2009, according to Grant, and the organization also does work in India. The organization has been holding charity climbs since 2008, and they use a professional mountain guide service to facilitate the climb, Grant said.

Antoniades said he has always had climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on his “bucket list” and that he knows Samuelson from alumni bus trips to UA football games. On one of the bus trips, the subject of Mount Kilimanjaro came up with Samuelson, who he knew already had an interest in climbing the mountain, and this got him thinking about the climb even more, according to Antoniades.

Antoniades said that several years ago, he came across a book on
climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and after his interest had been piqued on the bus trip, he visited the author’s website. At the website he clicked on a link called “charity climbs” and the first organization that came up was Make A Difference Now, Antoniades said.

“Of all those charity climbs listed, that was the only one that also provided an opportunity to do, to spend some time ahead of the climb volunteering for the charity,” Antoniades said.

A trip that involves volunteering is something that he and Tsoudis have wanted to do for some time, according to Antoniades.

Antoniades told Samuelson about the trip and she expressed her interest in joining. Tsoudis will be making a short video for the organization and help with other tasks at the orphanage.

“We have done a lot of travel and we tend to gravitate to places and experiences that not everybody gets to have, like we hiked the Inca Trail in Peru and we have been to Tibet,” Tsoudis said. “And so we have done a lot of those types of trips.”

The climb up Mount Kilimanjaro will take five and a half days and the trip down will take one and a half days, according to Antoniades, who is preparing for the climb by going on longer and longer hikes and walks, along with strength conditioning for his legs.

“It is huge, you know, if you can give love and attention to one child it makes a huge difference in their lives,” Grant said. “And that is what the volunteers do.”

To donate

Click here to donate to Stephanos Antoniades.

Click here to donate to Alyssa Samuelson.

Click here to donate to Olga Tsoudis.

You can also donate directly to Make A Difference by going to http://www.gomadnow.org and clicking on “ways to give” in the top banner.


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