Even as blowing snow and hunks of ice fell on 22-year-old Rebecca Boehm, her hopes never fell. This is where her faith had led her: to climb the most glacier-covered mountain in the contiguous U.S. to raise money for children living in poverty.
She thought of those children — like the ones she sponsors through Compassion and the ones she met on a mission trip to India — as she drove the spikes of her crampon-fitted boots into the snow on Mount Rainier. Although her layers of clothing now covered up the Bible verses she’d written on her arms with a Sharpie, she had memorized the Scriptures for encouragement.
The joy of the Lord is your strength.
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
She would do this — even with nausea and numb toes.
“WHAT AM I DOING HERE?”
Rebecca began sponsoring children through Compassion when she was 12 or 13 years old, raising the money through baby-sitting. Her drive to help children living in poverty continued into adulthood. After earning her associate degree, she took a mission trip to India and visited an orphanage, HIV clinic and impoverished villages there.
“I know it’s so cliché to say that it’s such a life-changing experience, but it’s such a different culture … it really widened my worldview,” Rebecca says.
But after she returned from her trip, she felt dissatisfied with her life in Washington, like she wasn’t doing enough to help others.
“When I got home, I just kind of hit that low of, What am I doing here?” she says.
Rebecca recalls that one day she was lying down praying when all of a sudden, “I sat straight up and said out loud, ‘I’m going to summit Mount Rainier as a fundraiser for children in poverty.’ And then I was like, Wait a minute. Who said that? Did I say that? I know nothing about climbing Mount Rainier.”
In fact Rebecca avoided physical challenges. “I don’t think I ran a single mile in all of high school.” When she was a teen, her dad would suggest hikes they could take together, and she’d always try to talk him into shorter, easier routes.
But her prayer that day changed everything. She’d have to train her body and mind while getting the word out about her goal: to raise 10 cents for every foot of the 14,410-foot peak. She learned about a company that leads guided hikes up Mount Rainier and decided to plan the adventure for the month after she earned her bachelor’s degree in integrated strategic communication.
Two years later, between studying for her final college exams, she was seeking out the hardest hikes to tackle while wearing a 40-pound pack. She was finally ready.