Climbing Kilimanjaro to End Polio Now

Macon Dunnegan on Mount Kilimanjaro

Macon Dunnegan, a member of the Rotary Club of Charlotte-South, North Carolina, USA, at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

By Macon Dunnagan Jr., a member of the Rotary Club of Charlotte-South, North Carolina, USA

In September, I will be leading a party of Rotarians from District 7680 (North Carolina, USA) up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, to raise money and awareness for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign.

I am not a stranger to the top of the mountain. Since 1999, I have reached the summit 20 times, on my own and as an expedition director for Zara Tours, based in Moshi, Tanzania. Since my first wife, Michelle, died of ovarian cancer in 2007, I have been climbing Kilimanjaro every September in support of cancer awareness.

Last May, a friend of mine who is a Rotarian invited me to speak to the Charlotte-South Rotary Club about my climbing experience. They must have enjoyed the talk, for they invited me to join their club!

A few months later, before I had even had a chance to follow through on the invitation because of my climbing schedule, I was attending another meeting when the discussion turned to fundraising ideas for the 2012-13 Rotary year. I piped up that I would be more than happy to lead a fundraising climb up Kilimanjaro. Well, five months later, more than 30 Rotarians are signed up to take part in the district’s first climb to End Polio Now, where we hope to raise $100,000 or more in pledges.

The fundraiser is especially important to me. Moshi is a town at the base of the mountain where I live while in Tanzania. In November 2011, Tanzania held a nation-wide immunization campaign, vaccinating 220,000 children against polio and measles, and delivering Vitamin A drops. But a shortage of funds prevented many of the children in Moshi from being vaccinated.

I have seen how important it is to keep raising money to fund eradication efforts. I am looking forward to leading a team of Rotarians to the summit in support of finally ridding the world of this crippling disease once and for all. I am also hoping to share the story with other Rotarians I meet at the 2013 RI Convention in Lisbon, Portugal.

We are truly “This Close” to ending polio. Let’s do all we can to cross the finish line.

Macon Dunnagan Jr. is author of the novel Sons of Kilimanjaro. He has served as a director of expedition for Zara Tours for ten years, and has worked in the travel industry for US Airways for 26 years. Learn more about District 7680’s Kilimanjaro End Polio Now fundraiser at the district’s website.

What has your club or district done to raise funds for polio eradication? Tell us below.

11 thoughts on “Climbing Kilimanjaro to End Polio Now

  1. Pingback: Climbing Kilimanjaro for Polio | Climbing Like Ibrahim

  2. this is awesome.
    My club: Rotary Nairobi East will be climbing the mountain for the same cause January 2nd.
    All are well come to join us. If you cant make January, join us on the next climb in October 2015


  3. 30 Charlotteans are preparing to climb the highest mountain in Africa- Mt. Kilimanjaro. The climb next week will help End Polio Now and promote awareness of Rotary International. In addition to rigorous training they have pledge to raise $100,000 towards the cause. As of this moment, they are ¾ of the way to their goal. Most are on a plan headed to Africa.

    Charlotte-South Rotarian Macon Dunnagan will lead the climb. “Mt Kilimanjaro is the hardest mental and physical challenge you will ever do in your life, ” Dunnagan says the trick is to walk slowly. “I think the altitude is the main thing. Most of these folks never been above 12,000 feet. Their first day we get to 10,000 feet.” It’s 19,388 feet to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The climate changes are what makes this hike so difficult. Imagine traveling from the equator to the north pole in four days. This is what the climbers will endure.

    The expedition starts September 10. Once the climbers reach the top, rotary members will celebrate the summit closer to home – at Crowder’s Mountain State Park, NC on September 15.
    Visit our website: if you want to participate.


  4. Pingback: Kyle dunnagan | Easytm

  5. Well done MACON!!! …One of our club members just climbed that MT. Too…in Jan 2012. He said it was life changing.

    Our club has a new 2nd year Fundraiser for POLIO. It is the Coup de Cascades, Bike RACE, 425 miles. Or…you can RIDE 25,50, or 100 miles too. The coup is a RAAM qualifier (Race Across America) in support of POLIO. Go to for more info…..if you would like to join us, please sign up. or contact: THANKS, President Kelly.


    • This is fantastic….when is this race…lets talk soon..I leave for my 21st climb up kilimanjaro in 6 weeks…I climb kili 5 times before October 1st 2012. The rotary climb will be my 23 climb.we have 31 people going and will do another climb September 9-14 2013 ..I am on facebook also…all these new idea are really fantastic…Macon


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