Stacey Riitho - Class of April 2021
I hesitated to share my story because every time I thought of writing it, I got emotional. I am in awe of where I started and, more so, where I am going. I started my journey on a board: no money, no energy — just a heart on fire and a desire to prove to myself that I was more.
I started my journey with nothing short of the hope that I will follow through and be strong. I hoped that no matter what, I would have the resilience to push because I had fallen in love with hiking.
In truth, nobody looked like me, and that was daunting. I was bigger, slower, weaker, and this intimidated me. So when I came across this [Beginner to Mt. Kenya] program, I was on the agenda to conquer myself, my fears, my body, and, most importantly, my mind.
I wanted to be more — more than what I looked like, more than people's perceptions of me; just more. What I did not know was I was coming to a family that already loved and thought of me as more, so for them, even when it got hard, I fought.
I remember almost getting to Point Lenana and thinking I had nothing more to give, but I remembered Outdoorer, Adam, Robert, Irene, and Gidraph; they had seen in me what no one else had. So, I fought. And I made it.
To any woman or man who looks like me, who has had to fight like me, keep fighting; you are as good as the team rooting for you. My team carried on my dream even when I thought I couldn't.
I am because they are.