Unite The World With Africa Foundation's founding board member David Wells summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with his HIKE FOR HEAVEN team this June to support Unite's work with The Heaven Pre & Primary School. To prepare for this herculean adventure, David spent six months riding a few times each week at the infamously rigorous SOUL CYCLE. Here below, SOUL features David and his inspiring story.
"In the fall of 2016, I made the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with four friends to support the Heaven School and St. Joseph’s orphanage. I had no prior experience with a climb of this type, so I needed to get in shape… fast.
We had moved to Westport, Connecticut in late 2015 — less than half a mile from the SoulCycle studio. My wife and daughter had taken some classes and they encouraged me to join them. My sister Linda has also been going to SOUL in New York City for years and loves it. Thankfully, the women in my family are the trailblazers.
I went into my first class feeling nervous, excited, and clueless. I had not really exercised for more than 25 years but was reasonably fit... or so I thought. SOUL took it to a whole new level. I felt the effects immediately. I felt (and continue to look) like I'd been through a monsoon after each class – and I keep coming back! I was hooked. The fun, energy, and challenge brought me back. The instructors and staff at WSPT are also fantastic – each and every one of them.
I felt an immediate and sustained impact on my energy level, strength, and lung capacity. I knew I was on the right path for my climb, as well as my health and sanity. I work long hours and travel quite a bit so the efficiency of SoulCycle — spending 45 minutes to an hour on full throttle — is perfect for me. My mind is clearer, my body is stronger, my energy is way level up. I have lost a few pounds and my stress level is down. One of the instructors at Wesport, JULIANNE, shouts out in class that we are “creating energy, not consuming it." I love that mantra.
With SOUL, any concerns I had on my strength to do the hike washed quickly away. My legs, arms, core and lungs were ready — and delivered for me all the way to the summit of Kilimanjaro and the roof of Africa. We successfully completed the climb and reached our goals in the process.
Through our Unite the World with Africa Foundation and a community of committed U.S. donors and volunteers, we're supporting 48 orphans — ages 9 months to 24 years old. Six are now in university, including one who's enrolled in medical school. The purpose of our Kilimanjaro climb (or Hike for Heaven) was to build and expand the Heaven School, a 200+ student primary school in Tanzania that provides outstanding education for these orphans and the surrounding community. We are still raising funds to complete the school expansion. The opportunity to do this work with my wife Anne, and have a seat at the table to engage with extraordinary Tanzanians to make this happen, excites me each and every day when I think about where these amazing children can take their lives.
Back home, SOUL has brought our family closer. A few times, all five of us (me, my wife and three daughters) took a class together, riding side-by-side in the back row. It has shown each of us a different side to the other — a healthy side committed to exercise and fun." ~David Wells