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Ravi Ettadi Raised over £3,000 for Worldwide Cancer Research Climbing Kilimanjaro

An arduous four-day ascent with very little oxygen and with no access to hot water doesn’t sound like many people’s idea of fun but for Ravi Ettadi, his Mount Kilimanjaro trek was about more than that. It was a way to help.

The 45-year-old climbed the famous dormant volcano last year and raised over £3000 for Worldwide Cancer Research, meaning that his money would go directly to scientists all across the world to help find cures and treatments for the many types of cancer there are today.

“I’m lucky in that I don’t have any close family or friends who have been diagnosed with cancer but I know I am in the minority,” he says. “I’ve been reading about the devastating effects of cancer since I was a boy and I wanted to do something. Although our technology is so advanced, we still don’t have the upper hand on cancer. Tremendous progress has been made but people are still dying. There is so much still to be done and I wanted to do my part.”

Helping to find cures and treatments for more than 200 types of cancer was always at the forefront of Ravi’s mind but there was something else that appealed to him about the charity.

“What struck me about Worldwide Cancer Research is that the research is not confined to one place,” he says. “I want to help projects all around the world and this charity understands that the life-saving research can come from any country, by any scientist all over the world. I am from India and have many friends all around the globe so it was important for me to support something for was international and where the money doesn’t stay in the UK. If even £1 of my funds goes to a scientist in an underdeveloped country, then I’ll be happy.”

Ravi, who lives in Barking, London, wanted to raise money for charity while doing something he was passionate about.

“I decided I wanted to have some adventures when I hit 40. It wasn’t a midlife crisis, exactly, but I wanted to go something memorable. I tried scuba diving, swimming between continents and skydiving, which were all fantastic but, as I sit at a desk all day in my IT job, I felt I wanted something to challenge me physically. Once I decided on Kilimanjaro, I paid for the actual trip out of my own pocket. I didn’t want to take any money out of the charity pot I raised so that every penny went directly to Worldwide Cancer Research and the amazing scientists.

“The trek itself was gruelling. Before I went, I attempted a walk from London to Brighton which was the longest walk I have done in one go. It took me 11 hours and 40 minutes and once I passed 40km, I opened my shoes to see the two biggest blisters I have ever seen.

“I walked 16km with the blisters to complete my goal and thought, ‘well, if I can walk with this pain, I’m sure I can climb Kilimanjaro’! The first three days of being on the trek were enjoyable but it gets worse as you climb higher. By day four, you reach base camp and have a short three-hour sleep before waking at midnight to climb to the summit. At that point, it doesn’t feel like there is enough oxygen and I did struggle. My brain knew what to do but my body didn’t want to listen. There were 19 people in my team and only two had to give up. I was the skinniest and with the lowest weight but I did it."

For Ravi, one of the best things to come out of his fundraising efforts, besides the money he raised, was passing on his passion to his 11-year-old daughter, Manasvi. He says: “I have completed a few walks for Worldwide Cancer Research as well as the Kilimanjaro climb and my wife and daughter completed the 20k Winter Walk Challenge with me. After that, my daughter decided she wanted to do something herself and completed the 25k Easter Walk and she raised £400 for Worldwide Cancer Research on her own. Before the walk, she was actually ill with a fever but was determined to complete it no matter what. I'm so proud to have passed on my passion for fundraising and helping others to her. She wants to do even bigger challenges but I've told her she has to wait until she's older.”

Ravi has now set his sights even higher and says he would love to tackle Everest base camp next year.

“A couple of moments have really stood out for me in my fundraising journey,” he says. “Before Kilimanjaro, I was training in my local park and a couple of older people saw me every morning and always asked why I was walking so much. I explained that I was training to climb Kilimanjaro for charity and the man immediately handed me £20. It gave me goosebumps that this older man, who I don't think had a lot of money, was willing to donate so quickly despite not knowing me. My daughter also told me she wanted to donate her £10 pocket money instead of buying a new toy. That was so touching. It's so joyful when someone donates when you don't expect it and if I can inspire one person with my story, I will be delighted."

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