Nonprofit Helps African Orphans Climb Kilimanjaro

For 22 African orphans who received the chance to climb Mount Kilimanjaro the old adage ‘aim high’ is more than just a saying.

A few years back Shankles, who works out of his Oceanside garage, formed the nonprofit Aiding Children's Villages with one simple goal: help orphans in Africa.

Back then he didn't have many contacts or sponsors or much climbing experience himself - which is why he trained on Southern California's highest peak - San Gorgonio.

On his first training hike he and two others took a wrong turn and got lost.

Search and rescue crews canvassed the mountain and the story made national news - eventually the climbers were reunited with anxious family and friends.

He ended up writing a book about his experiences climbing and how it’s affected his Christian faith and life.

Now he partners with groups in Tanzania to bring dozens of kids to the top of Kilimanjaro twice a year.

"They see [Kilimanjaro] every day and most of them, as poor as they are in poverty, they'd never get the chance to do it," he said of the program.

Shankles said he likes to ask kids what they want to be when they grow up before and after the trek and the response after the climb is almost always more confident.

He told NBC7 he hopes to expand the program to less fortunate kids here in San Diego.

Through it all Shankles' message is clear – don’t let your start determine your finish.

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