Just two weeks ago Rodney and Amy Westlake arrived to WaterStep’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky to be trained on how to install portable safe water systems using WaterStep’s M-100 which provides 10,000 gallons of safe water per day. Why? Because their family will be traveling to Uganda on January 1 so that their daughter, Lucy, can climb Mount Kilimanjaro Jan 7-14 with her father. Not only will she be summiting her way into the record books, she will be a WaterStep Ambassador as she and her family will be Saving Lives with Safe Water in Uganda. Here’s how it all came to be:
When Lucy was two years old, she received a letter back from the child that had received her Operation Child Christmas Shoebox. The girl’s name is Faith Olupot. She is the same age as Lucy and lives in a rural village in Uganda. She received the shoebox through the local Christian family center in her village. Lucy and Faith began writing letters to each other. In 2010, Faith’s father, Emmanuel, learned how to use a computer and reached out to the Westlakes via email. The communication between Lucy and Faith’s family became easier and more frequent with computer access. The Westlakes knew that Faith and her family were in desperate need of safe water and after learning about WaterStep years ago, they began praying and thinking about how they could take safe water to Faith and her family.
In April 2011, the Westlakes – Rodney, Amy, Lucy and Jack – travelled to eastern Kentucky to develop a plan for the Middletown Christian Family Mission Trip to Lynch, Kentucky. It was there that they learned the highest peak in Kentucky was a short drive up Black Mountain. They drove to the high point and it was there that Lucy told her parents that she wanted to be baptized. Driving home from that trip, they began to wonder and research where other state high points were located. Yes, this family loves to travel. That summer, they decided to stop and hike as many high peaks as they could on their family trip out West. That was the beginning of the quest. Lucy, now 12, and her father, Rodney, decided they wanted to hike all 50 state high points. This past summer, they became the youngest father-daughter team to ever summit the lower 48 state high points. Lucy set a world record as the youngest female to accomplish this goal.
The only mountain left to climb to complete Lucy’s goal of standing on top of all 50 state high points is Alaska’s Denali. Denali is one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb. The trip is 21 days of hiking solely in snow, climbing to an elevation of 20,310 feet and carrying 100 pounds on your back. After endless research, the Westlakes found a guide who would be willing to guide Rodney and Lucy on Denali. But, there was one prerequisite. Lucy had to first climb a mountain over 19,000 feet to see if her body could acclimate and handle the altitude.
After Rodney hung up the phone with the guide company and told Amy the news, she immediately knew it was their time to go to Uganda. Uganda is only a day drive away from Mount Kilimanjaro, an accessible 19,314 foot mountain. The Westlake family arrives in Uganda on January 1. Rodney and Lucy will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro January 7-14. Stay tuned to hear more about this family’s mission to Save Lives with Safe Water. WaterStep is confident that this family will save one child, one family, one community at a time just as Lucy and her father, Rodney have climbed one mountain at a time.
To Read more about Lucy’s story of determination and perseverance, click here.