Prayers at the peak of Kilimanjaro

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Before she left to climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, Janene Corrado made sure to ask for a blessing from her pastor, Father Ramel O. Portula of St. Ann Church in Arlington. With daily devotions and about “1,000 Hail Marys,” Corrado kept her faith close as she and five companions summited the 19,000-foot peak. “It was an experience of a lifetime,” she said.

For many years, Corrado has participated in marathons, triathlons and other feats of endurance to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “You realize you can do something really important for these cancers,” she said. Then, in 2011, her father was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. He beat the cancer, and she continued raising money for the cause, about $30,000 in total.

This year, she decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Through the society’s Team in Training, she connected with others affected by the cancers, and began planning for the 10-day hike. Though she tried to prepare, reaching the top was the hardest thing she’s ever done physically, said Corrado, a mother of three.

She hadn’t met any of her teammates, but each had been touched by cancer, and they soon bonded. “I totally believe God orchestrated this thing,” she said.

 Corrado also was deeply touched by the Tanzanians, who served as their guides up the mountain. “(The country) has poverty like I’ve never seen before,” she said, but the people were incredibly happy. “It was very humbling,” she said.

As they climbed, one man fell sick and had to be brought down the mountain. Everyone else made it to the top, though Corrado felt exhausted, hungry and oxygen-deprived. At one point, she thought they had made it to the top when they still had an hour left to go. “It was awful,” she said, and a guide had to help her every step to the summit.

Reaching the peak was surreal and emotional, she said. It was sunny and bright above the clouds, and she could see glaciers from the top of the dormant volcano. Before they made the descent, the young Tanzanian guide gathered them all in a circle and led them in prayer. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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