Derek Haines, left, and past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Brian Hurley with two Bolivian boys, Abdael and Carlos relax after a kickabout with a football after the children had recovered from surgery they had recently undergone.
As one of the flattest islands on earth, Grand Cayman does not seem like the ideal place to train for a three-peak mountain climbing challenge in the “roof of the world.”
But that has not stopped Derek Haines and his charity challenge team from putting in the hard yards as they prepare to travel to Bolivia this weekend as part of a fundraising campaign in aid of the Have a Heart Cayman Islands Foundation, which finances lifesaving heart surgeries at Health City for underprivileged children.
The trio, Mr. Haines, Vico Testori and Barry Yetton, have been preparing for the climb by carrying their 50-pound packs up and down the Camana Bay Observation Tower 20 times, three times a week.
“There are 115 steps to the summit and I think we know each one personally now,” said Mr. Testori, owner of Ristorante Pappagallo in West Bay.
The three climbers plan to go much further when they travel to Bolivia. They aim to summit Condoriri, Huayana Potosi and Illimani, with a combined height of 57,285 feet, in May and June.
The climbs are part of “The Mountains and Marathons Challenge,” a fundraising effort led by Mr. Haines, past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman.
For Haines, it is the follow-up to his 2014 challenge, when he ran six marathons in a year to raise more than $1 million for Cayman HospiceCare.
Now he is joining with other endurance athletes for a multi-event team challenge to raise money for a new cause.
“We are setting our sights high on this fundraiser, but the reward of saving the lives of children is huge,” said Mr. Haines. “The Cayman community has shown very generous support for my efforts in the past, and I am confident they will get behind this too. We have already over $100,000 pledged and every dollar will go to saving a life.”
In the past two years, Have a Heart Cayman Islands has helped 74 children from around the Caribbean region and Central and South America.
The first leg of the challenge was the grueling Cayman 50K Off the Beaten Track, completed by Mr. Haines in February.
Also supporting the challenge are Chris Bailey and Shane Delaney, who are attempting Ironmans in Wisconsin and Barcelona in July and October.
Mr. Haines will pick up the baton again in November and December by running marathons in Havana, Cuba, and Grand Cayman.