Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to help fund Chicago Special Olympics

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is no easy feat.

But, what exactly do you have to do to train for it? Well, you take things one step at a time - literally.

For Brenda McHugh, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro seemed near impossible at one point.

"I've had three surgeries in the last 18 months," McHugh said. "I was run over by a car in March of this year. I got stitches in the back of my head from that and had tire marks on my pants."

But a special anniversary pushed her to test her strength.

Fifty years ago her late husband, Jack McHugh, founded the Special Children's Charities to help fund the Chicago Special Olympics.

"The first Special Olympic games were in 1968, but the park district did not have a budget to do the games every year for the kids. So he got a group of his friends to make it happen," McHugh said.

For months McHugh trained at Well-Fit Performance in the West Loop to help her on her journey. She and her trainer, Sharone Aharon, think she's ready to take on the 19,341-foot mountain.

"The idea of climbing the mountain is being in shape and common sense, I think she's got both," Aharon said.

Her training consisted of three different types: walking, strength training and altitude acclimatization.

Aharon claims Well-Fit is the only altitude training facility in the Midwest. And if you're training for professional or amateur purposes, the climate of the altitude room is ideal.

"The idea is to stress the body on the oxygen level in a way that cannot be stressed at any other way at sea level," Aharon said."In order to get fit in here, you have to do high-intensity work."

"I never decided that I would because I didn't think that I could, I decided that I was going to give my best effort," McHugh added. "That's the same motto we have for the kids, which is I may not win, but I'm going to give my best effort trying."

Mchugh hopes her climb can help raise $50,000 for the Special Children's Charities and the Special Olympics.

You can follow McHugh's journey on Facebook and Instagram (@climbforscc) or by visiting their campaign website.
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