By Stefanie Phillips, RSJ ’18

Ronald Hulse and his wife, Karen Hulse at Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Photo: Ben Webster.

After summiting Mount. Kilimanjaro in 2011, Ronald Hulse thought he had climbed the tallest mountain he would ever scale.

On the ninth, and final, day of the climb, the Ryerson School of Journalism graduate and his team were reaching the end of their journey. They were swollen and sunburnt, their toenails were falling off and puffy bags hung under their eyes from countless nights of fitful sleep. Relief and pride overwhelmed them as they sang their way down the final stretch of the highest mountain in Africa.

When they reached the base, Hulse gave all of his gear – right down to the boots on his feet – to the sherpas who helped his group complete the journey. He traded it all in for five dollar flip flops and a cotton t-shirt that read, “I climbed Kilimanjaro.”

“We gave it all away,” he said. “At that point, I didn’t think I would ever be doing anything like that again.”

But this year, Hulse changed his mind. The 65-year-old will be trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp as part of the Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) Trek to Mount Everest.

“A month later I started reflecting on it and realized how life-changing it was,” he said. “When you finally get to the top it’s this indescribable feeling of release.”

Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa with a peak of 5,895 meters above sea level. Photo: Ben Webster.

Hulse will be joined by a team of 26 MSH supporters, including, Peter Hillary, the son of Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of the largest mountain in the world.

The team will be raising funds to build a new operating room at the hospital. The operating room will be equipped with fluoroscopy – or real-time x-ray technology – that will enable future growth for the busy hospital. Every year, 28 surgeons at the hospital perform over 21,000 surgeries procedures for cancer, gastrointestinal and other procedures.

So far, they have raised about half of their $750,000 goal and will continue accepting donations until the beginning of June. You can donate to the cause here.

The trek starts in Kathmandu on Apr. 22, and from there the team will embark on a 15-day journey through the Himalayas, up to Base Camp and back again. Medical professionals on the team will also be volunteering at a local hospital that was devastated by the 2015 earthquake.

This time around, Hulse says he is better prepared – mentally and physically. Thanks to generous community and corporate donors, the group has received breath training, physical training and new gear for their adventure.

“The whole thing will be about giving back to make things better for our local community and for the people there,” he said.