In January, Aspen's Holly Upper will embark on a trip to climb three of Africa's tallest peaks - Mount Kenya (17,057 feet), Mount Meru (14,980 feet) and Mount Kilimanjaro (19,349 feet) - in an effort to raise money and awareness for three organizations on the continent making a positive impact on the environment, education and health. The project, which Upper will undertake with 10 other women from around the world, is aptly called "3 Peaks 3 Weeks."
Every dollar earned will be used to help these organizations:
• The Laikipia Wildlife Forum, which is dedicated to educating villages on ways to maintain ecosystem integrity, develop conservation programs and protect threatened wildlife and habitats.
• The School of St. Jude, which aims to curtail poverty through providing educational opportunities for more than 1,500 Tanzanian orphans and disadvantaged children.
• Support for International Changes, which is committed to both limiting the impact of the spread of HIV/AIDS in under-served communities and training future leaders in global health and development.
"Growing up in Aspen, I have been very fortunate," said Upper, who is responsible for paying all of her expenses. "When I heard about this challenge, I knew it would be a life-changing experience for me and would enhance the quality of life for thousands of Africans. In my mind, this is the best way to see Africa."
Holly first learned about this program when she met fellow valley resident Rachel Goodman, who completed "3 Peaks 3 Weeks" in 2009.
"3 Peaks 3 Weeks was forever life changing," Rachel Goodman said in a news release. "Not only are you faced with climbing three of the highest peaks in Africa in three weeks, but your main challenges revolve around gaining support and awareness for the three local charitable organizations, which can be very tough in these economic times in the U.S. However, once you arrive in Africa and are able to see exactly where each dollar goes and look into the eyes of the people who directly benefit ... you will only wish you could have done more."
For more information on Upper's trip, visit www.3peaks3weeks.org, or e-mail her at Holly.Upper@gmail.com. To make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.firstgiving.com/Holly.Upper.
Tucker Beirne, an eighth-grader at Aspen Middle School, recently was selected to play in the All-American Junior Rank Diamond Bowl on Dec. 30 in Tempe, Ariz. Beirne, one of only 60 eighth-graders from across the country participating, will play quarterback for the Junior Rank East team.
"We spent months scouring over thousands of nominations from across the country to choose, what we believe, is America's next generation of outstanding student football players," said Shaon Berry, president and CEO of Junior Rank, in a news release. "It's important to remember, these young men were not just chosen because they are tremendous football players, they were also chosen because they are good students who contribute positively to the community."
Present and former NFL players and coaches will be running practices for both teams during bowl week as well as serving as head coaches during the games.
GrassRoots Community Television will host the third annual Free Range Open Golf Tournament on Monday, Sept. 27, at the Roaring Fork Club in Basalt.
This is a rare chance to play this Jack Nicklaus-designed course while drinking beer, enjoying barbecue and supporting your community television station.
Visit grassrootstv.org for information.
The 31st Vasque Golden Leaf Half Marathon, which Trail Runner Magazine hails as one of "America's 14 Most Scenic Races," returns to the area Saturday.
The race, which will include nearly 1,000 racers from Colorado, 29 other states and even Canada, will start in waves beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Snowmass Village. Competitors will head up Fanny Hill, continue along the Government Trail and finish in Aspen.
Registration is full, but visit www.aspenrecreation.com for more information.