Mount Kili
Africa Expedition - Mount Kilimanjaro, Sept 2011
Photo 1 - School built with charity in Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro, often referred to as Mount Kili, is considered to be the Roof of Africa. The highest point on the continent, Mount Kili stands some 19,340 feet above sea level in the northern section of Tanzania. Several years ago I was blessed to visit Tanzania and to see the mountain from afar. During this trip I had the opportunity to visit The Ayalabe Primary School located in the Arusha Region and Karatu District. The trip and, in particular, my visit to the school was one of the most moving experiences of my life. While the physical conditions of the facilities were in need of significant repair or replacement the attitude and enthusiasm of the children was extraordinary. Their desire to share and to learn was amazing. As the result of this incredible experience my wife, Renee and I, committed to building a new classroom for the children. The project was completed in 2009. Pictures can be viewed at under the “Past Projects” section.

Fast forward to current. The Lord has blessed me greatly over the years. Our charitable foundation, The Thanks Be To God Foundation, was founded on the belief that “To Whom Much Is Given Much Is Required”. The foundation supports primarily two very worthwhile causes. The first cause is to support children across the globe. A few of the organizations that have received support include Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade For Christ, The TBTG Scholarship fund and others. Our second focus is to support entrepreneurship. A significant initiative in this area includes our support for KIVA. Our Kiva group, TBTG Foundation, provides micro loans to small businesses in developing countries. To date approximately 439 loans have been provided. As loans are repaid those dollars are lent to other aspiring entrepreneurs.

For several months I have been thinking and praying about returning to Tanzania, specifically to climb Mt. Kili in order to raise the awareness of the challenges faced by our youth in Tanzania and also in Central Ohio. I also am hoping to use this adventure to raise funds for the children along with the awareness. I will pay 100% of my expenses to travel to Tanzania and also for the climb. I have booked reservations to travel to Tanzania on September 2, 2011 and begin the ascent to the roof of the continent. Following what I believe will be a successful summit I plan to spend a few days working on service projects prior to my return.

I am happy to report that not only did we reach our goal of raising $15,000 for charities we will indeed surpass $30,000, of which 50% will be provided to Central Ohio based charities and 50% to projects in Africa. I am hopeful that this effort will gain significant momentum and that this target will be far exceeded. Donors supporting this effort can designate, at the time of their contribution to the TBTG Foundation (located at The Columbus Foundation) which local organization they would like their funds to support. During the coming months I will provide periodic updates on my progress in terms of both training and my fund raising goal. All donations will be distributed immediately to the designated charities upon my return to the US in late September.

It is not often in life that we have the opportunity to combine activities that we enjoy with causes that we are passionate towards. I believe that the climb will be challenging but doable. I will certainly be inspired by, and would greatly appreciate your encouragement, prayers and financial support. Again remember that 100% of your donation is tax deductible and no contributions will be used to supplement my expenses. I will carry your well wishes and love for our children with me to the summit of Mt. Kili. Please e-mail me at should you have any questions or would like additional information. You can donate directly via our website or at The Columbus Foundation located at 1234 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205. Should you wish to donate via the Columbus Foundation please designate your contribution to The Thanks Be To God Foundation (Mt. Kili Ascent) Thank you, one thousand times.


Dwight Smith
Thanks Be To God Foundation

Mount Kilimanjaro - First Update
Dear Friend,

Hello. This Saturday, September 3rd, I will board a flight at Port Columbus (along with several friends) for the long anticipated trip to Tanzania and the climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Before heading out I wanted to express my sincerest appreciation for your support, spiritually and financially, over the past several months. I have rented a satellite phone and plan to phone home to my lovely wife, Renee, with periodic updates during our ascent. Renee will be sharing these updates with you as they are received. We begin the ascent on September 6th. We summit early on the 13th (19,340 ft). The ascent will require seven days however the descent will be much quicker and be completed on the afternoon of the 14th. One of the main reasons for the slow ascent is tied to the need to acclimatize along the way. Taking Dimanox for attitude sickness, I understand is often helpful.

The weather should be good and hopefully dry. Temperatures at the beginning of the climb should be comfortable. The freeze line is approximately 15,000 feet, with temperatures at the summit, with wind chill, likely to be in the 5-10 degree range. We camp at 18,800 the evening before the summit. Layering helps. Hot water bottles are provided to place inside your sleeping bag for warmth.

As you may recall the primary reason for this adventure is to raise money for charities that support children. Our initial goal was to raise $15,000 – lofty to be certain. As we depart on Saturday our total raise for charity will exceed $30,000. In addition we have received two matching grants totaling an additional $20,000 therefore the total impact for children will exceed $50,000. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine such a tremendous outpouring of support. I am forever indebted to you. Once again faith and blessings lead to the impossible being accomplished….In God all things are indeed possible.

In terms of safety, which is of paramount importance, we are travelling with a fine company with lots of experience. Please keep Tanny, Talley, Curtis, Shake and me in your prayers. Check for updates . Thank you for being with us in spirit. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

God Bless You.



P.S. Thank you to the friends, families and supporters of our team members who inspired us daily during training.

P.S.S …a special thanks to the 3000 students at Cedarville University for their collective prayers.

Mount Kilimanjaro - Updates
Tuesday September 6th
We have reached the first camp, Forest Camp. We hiked about four hours, lots of up and down. The weather is good, 40-45 degrees. Everyone is doing well and in great spirits. We will hike longer tomorrow, 6-7 hours. Taking it slow as we adjust to altitude.

Thursday, September 08
We reached the third camp, Shari Camp 2. We are at 13,000 ft. We hiked about 7 hours and can see the peak of Mt. Kili. It is getting colder and the camp was covered with ice crystals. We are doing well; tired and eating lots of food and drinking lots of water. We have passed through three climate zones. Over next few days we will hike up to 15,000 ft and down to 13,000 ft and back up to 15,000 ft. We continue to climatize in preparation for hiking to 18,800 ft and will attempt to summit on Monday. We are being well taken care of and oxygen/medical checks are performed each day. The views are spectacular and everyone continues to be in high spirits. Curtis Jewel celebrates his 68th birthday today, what an incredible way to mark the day. Keep praying for everyone and stay tuned for next update.

Friday, September 09
We have made it to Lava Tower camp. We hiked 6 hours and everyone is pretty tired. No one suffering from altitude sickness at this time. We are at 15,200 ft and it is windy and dusty. Everyone is eating well and staying hydrated. Tomorrow will be a very tough day with about 8 hours of hiking and climbing of an 800 ft rock wall. Still hoping to try to summit on Monday. We can see the peak and the snow. The mantra for everyone is pole: go slowly. The guides and porters are fantastic and critical to the journey. Continue to pray for the group that we will be safe, remain well and have the needed stamina to put one foot in front of the other each day as we strive for the summit.

Saturday, September 10
The team hiked 8 hours today and arrived at Karanga Valley base camp. It was a grueling day; lots of ups and downs. We climbed the Great Barranco Wall, a steep and hard climb. It is very cold at night. Had hot water bottles in our sleeping bags for extra warmth. I had to put satellite batteries next to hot water bottle to keep them from freezing. Ice crystals covering the camp and you can hear the howl of the wind as you rest in your tent. We have taken spectacular pictures during the trip and it is difficult to explain being above the clouds. The team is starting to feel the effects of the higher altitude. Tomorrow the team will hike 16,600ft and attempt to summit on Monday. We will reach Stella Point at 18,890 ft and then push on to Uhuru "The Summit" at 19,343 ft. The team will then head down to 15,500 ft to spend the night. We do not want to sleep at 18,000ft as this is challenging physically and it is difficult to sleep. Continue in prayer for all members of the group that they remain safe, have strength in their physical bodies to take one step at a time, are mentally strong and their spirits high and they are Blessed by the Lord and return home safely.

Sunday, September 11
Team is camping at 16,000 ft. Everyone being affected by the altitude but they are hanging in there. We are resting up for the attempt to summit on Monday. We will start around 5:30am and it will be an intense day for all. There are two opportunities to officially summit Mt Kilimanjaro; Stella Point @18,800ft and Uhuru @19,340 ft. Pray for safety, strength, spiritual fortitude for the team.

Monday, September 12
Great news the team has reached the summit we are at the top of Africa. Very emotional and hard to describe how it feels. Taking lots of pictures and and then will head down to 15,000ft to spend the night. Continue to pray for the team. Going down is also quite challenging.

Monday, September 12
We have made it down to 15,000 ft. will camp and rest. Tomorrow we will go down to 10,000 ft and then Wednesday down to 5,000 ft - where we started. We will get an opportunity to clean up, celebrate the accomplishments and head to the airport and home. Thank you to everyone who has been praying and sending good thoughts to the team. Keep praying for safety and strength as the journey is not over yet for the team.

Tuesday, September 13
The team has arrived at 10,000 ft and will spend the night at this camp. Everyone in good spirits and breathing easier. All looking forward to a hot shower and fresh clothing when they get down to 5,000 ft tomorrow and their experience on Mt. Kili comes to a close. Pray for safe travel home for everyone.

Wednesday, September 14
Team made it back to main camp and enjoying the conveniences of the lodge, namely hot running water. We are celebrating with dinner and thanking everyone who helped make our ascent. and descent successful. We will be leaving soon for the airport and should arrive home on the evening of 9/15. Thank you to all who have prayed for us during this amazing journey, I know they helped push us on. Continue to pray and keep us in your thoughts as we head HOME. We look forward to sharing photos and many stories about climbing Mt. Kili.

Invest a minute a day to become a better leader
Along with several close friends, I was blessed to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa at 19,340 feet. We began the trek under the guidance of one outstanding leader, a gentleman simply known to all as Bernard.

Bernard, age 35, has been a guide on Kilimanjaro for ten years. During our adventure Bernard lead from the front, back and middle – in his role as the Head Guide, he served as coach, counselor, physician, motivator, nutritionist, and much more.

For nine days Bernard was literally and figuratively responsible for nine lives during an intense and unpredictable adventure. Challenge “Number One” was being attentive to each member of the group; individuals from around the globe, all with very different personalities and physical abilities, some meeting for the first time, all highly driven (some competitors and some high achievers), with a personal objective of making it to the summit (focused on individual achievement versus a team effort).

So the question is - What was most impressive about Bernard’s leadership?
  1. Bernard was completely and totally committed to everything that was important – safety, the mission, his clients, his team, etc.
  2. Bernard, as great leaders do, was able to connect with each individual and the group as a whole. He established common ground with each person. He gave, and in return, received respect and gratitude from everyone.
  3. Bernard engaged his team. He provided opportunities for his three support guides to develop and demonstrate their abilities to lead.
  4. Bernard was an awesome communicator. He communicated constantly in an open and honest manner….You always knew EXACTLY the information that was required.
  5. Bernard was a tremendous coach; daily coaching nine people with different personalities and needs to reach deep within themselves for “newly found” strength.
  6. Bernard was an effective problem solver. Given the magnitude of the challenge, problems did arise. Bernard’s ability to anticipate, observe and proactively address issues were reflected in both his style and grace as a leader.
I shared with Bernard during our trip that I suspected that he viewed his primary role as getting everyone safely to the summit and back. He quickly agreed with my assessment. I then shared with Bernard that I believed that his role was much more significant and in fact, he was in the “life changing” business.

I can speak from personal experience that Kilimanjaro is a life changer --- an experience that was SIGNIFICANTLY enhanced by being fortunate to interact with a tremendous leader and my new friend, Bernard a true “high” achiever.


Dwight Smith
CEO, Sophisticated Systems Incorporated