CAROLINA BEACH STATE PARK, NC (WWAY) -- Depending on who you ask, about 30 thousand people attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa every year. 20 people from around the world, all Type 1 diabetics, will do just that in June.
Only one American is in the group.
She's from Wilmington and she's our Extraordinary Person of the Week.
Her backpack is a workout in itself. But the actual workout? Thea Nunez says "It's hard in this area because there are no mountains. We're at sea level, the highest part is 55 feet". It's a challenge when the highest place you can go is roughly 19,000 feet lower than where you are go-ing.
"I'm training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. It's one of the tallest in the world, the tallest in Africa," says Nunez. Thea Nunez is one of 20 Type 1 diabetics headed for the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The top? 19,341 feet to be exact. The journey from the bottom? One step at a time.
"We're going to be constantly checking blood sugar every one to two hours and adjust insulin rates to that," says Nunez. "A lot of the symptoms of altitude sickness mimic hypoglycemia, when blood sugar drops, so we have to be careful about that as well."
It will take endurance for thea and the other Type 1 diabetics to scale the mountain. Experts say even the healthiest fail to reach the top about 30% of the time...mostly because of altitude sickness. But, that means 70% make it.
"I've climbed the Rockies, parts of the Smokey Mountains, that's about the extent of what I've done, so this is pretty big," says Nunez. Just in case, doctors and nurses from around the world are climbing Mt. Kili at this groups side.
Also climbing, Thea's fundraising for the non-profit JDRF. "The goal is 5895 dollars because that's the number of meters to the top," she says.
The top. It's called the "Roof of Africa".
Thea's 10 day journey to it....
...to fulfill a dream.
...to raise money for type one diabetes research.
...to show other Type 1 diabetics that anything is possible?
Well.....it would be impossible to say she is anything short of....Extraordinary.
You can read more about Thea's June 14th journey and donate to her mission by logging on to her fundraising site...
....80% of the money she raises will be donated directly to JDRF.