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By 4 September 2019 | Categories: news

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If you’re in need of some heartwarming news – and with this week as it has been, who isn’t? – try this for size: yesterday a group of Russian athletes with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy started to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, becoming one of the first groups of Russian people with disabilities to do this.

It's a matter of an immovable force meeting an indomitable  spirit. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa with the summit of 5 895 meters above sea level.

‘Kilimanjaro. I can!’ is a joint project of Kaspersky, Syndrome of Love and Downside Up - two charity foundations aimed at breaking the stereotypes about physical disability associated with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy diagnoses.

Between there is two, there is project that is now underway, showing that even the most seemingly unattainable dreams can come true.

Breaking barriers

The main participants of the expedition are Stanislav Bogdanov and Stepan Bezrukov, a pair of young people with Down syndrome, Pavel Krysanov, a well known marathon runner with cerebral palsy and Alexander Lebedev, a resident of the Udomlya Orphanage in Tver city, Russia. The support team includes a climbing instructor, coach, doctor, employees of the Syndrome of Love foundation and a Kaspersky volunteer.

Stanislav, Stepan, and Pavel lead an active lifestyle, being professional athletes as well as role models for many people with the same health conditions, inspiring them to go beyond their limits. For them, an expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro is an opportunity to demonstrate that there are no barriers for people with Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy and they can reach any goals they want to achieve in life.

“It’s often believed that people with Down syndrome have many limitations in life but this is not true – they have the same opportunities as all of us have. Just as any of us, they can climb the highest mountain in Africa, and we are here to help them reach new heights. With this project we will be also raising funds for the Syndrome of Love foundation to help many other people with Down syndrome make their dreams come true,” commented Irina Menshenina, director of the foundation.

Scaling heights for a purpose

Along with raising awareness about these conditions, the project’s goal is to raise funds for Syndrome of Love foundation’s educational and developmental programs for people with Down syndrome. The participants aim to raise 589 500 rubles (approximately $9 000 or R133 200), which equals the height of Kilimanjaro, and welcome anybody who can donate and support the project.

The fundraising is open on the JustGiving platform where people can donate any money they can spare for the cause and become a part of the project. The results will be announced at the end of September and Kaspersky will double the final sum of the funds raised.

“This journey will draw attention to the issues and stereotypes people with disabilities face and will show that we are capable of going far beyond the limits set by the society. We hope that this amazing project will help to change the perception of the society towards people with disabilities,” added Pavel Krysanov, who ran 17 marathons and one off-road ultra-marathon.

Inspiration for all

The feat also serves as inspiration to the rest of us, with Kaspersky noting that ‘Kilimanjaro. I can!’ is a story of effort and struggle against improbabilities. Thus, the company added, it serves as an example for all people who find themselves in a difficult life situation that anything is possible and there are always people around who are ready to support them.

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky, wished members of the expedition the best of luck: “A few years ago I also climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro, and I can say for sure it’s not easy. Still, fulfilling your dreams rarely is. So here’s wishing the courageous expedition the very best of luck! I really do envy you in that soon you’ll be seeing the breathtakingly beautiful sights of Kilimanjaro for the first time – for the first time is always the best. Have a super expedition, and Godspeed!” 

Live updates from the expedition will be shared on Kaspersky social media channels and can be followed by using the hashtag #ICanKili.

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