Top #STS Mini-Fundraiser – Ruth Cardona

The #SmallThingsSummer Campaign has got off to a brilliant start. With over $16,000 raised so far out of our $20,000 target for the Orphanage Reform, we couldn’t be more thrilled and thankful to all of our generous supporters. With just over a month to go, there is still plenty of time for you to get involved. And if you need some inspiration, then just check out the story of our fantastic top fundraiser, Ruth Cardona, who will be arriving in Tanzania tomorrow, ready to start her eight day trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on Saturday. She will spend Thursday visiting the children at the orphanage, followed by one day of rest before her assent. Read on to find out more about Ruth’s motivation to tackle the world’s highest free standing mountain, with a massive $5,865 worth of donations in tow.

Ruth is originally from Wisconsin in the United States. Her family is Puerto Rican and in 2006, she moved to Dubai for work. In 2010, she made her next move to Abu Dhabi, where she currently lives, and works at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. 

Ruth at Lake Duluti on her first trip to Tanzania in January 2013

So Ruth, where did you first find out about The Small Things? 

“I did quite a bit of research on orphanages in Tanzania. I wanted to support one that was officially registered but small enough that money was not caught up in red tape and bureaucracy. It was important that I know exactly where the money would go – to the kids. Bekka, (the Founder and Director of The Small Things) replied to all my questions and I felt very comfortable with my decision to fundraise for The Small Things.”

What motivated you to fundraise for The Small Things and the children of Nkoaranga Orphanage?

“I’ve always had a place in my heart for orphans. During my visits to Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana and Zimbabwe), I’ve seen so many kids with few possessions living simple lives, but always smiling and joyful. They really teach you a lot about contentment.”

What made you choose to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a fundraiser?

“After my first visit to subsaharan Africa in August 2013 to Kenya, I was hooked on Africa. I traveled to Tanzania in January 2013 and during my visit, I kept thinking about Mount Kilimanjaro and, “what if I climbed it? Could I?” I like to push my limits and although the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone in such an extreme way for eight days is quite scary, it’s also very exciting. Using it as an opportunity to fundraise makes it even more meaningful.” 

Some of the gorgeous faces that motivate our super stars to fundraise!

How are you feeling about taking on this challenge of a life time?!

“I started planning this trip more than a year ago. I was really excited about it….until about a month ago! As it draws nearer, my nerves are getting the best of me and I’m feeling quite anxious about it. I try to keep reminding myself that there’s a greater purpose in this challenge, and that’s to support the kids at Nkoaranga Orphanage. That’s my motivation.” 

How do you feel about all the amazing support and donations you have received so far in response to your fundraiser?

“I’m very grateful to everyone who has donated and I hope it will inspire others to give back in which ever way they can. I’ve been blessed in my life and I knew I had to give back and encourage others to do so too. 

(Now, if Ruth’s inspiring words are not already great enough, then check out this for dedication and hard work!)

“I exercise six days a week. I’m training to run my first marathon, the NYC Marathon in November, so I alternate between strength training classes and runs. I originally started working out with a personal trainer last August to prepare myself for Kilimanjaro, to lose weight, and improve my overall health. My trainer made me run and I ended up really enjoying it, so a marathon goal was soon added to my Kilimanjaro goal for 2014. I ran four 10-K’s and two half marathons in the winter!”

Ruth’s top fundraising tips:

-Publicise your events and goals on social media
-Send your story to everyone on your personal email lists
-In each case, follow up with two or three additional emails 
-Encourage your family to help out by emailing their own friends and co-workers
“Contact everyone you know, from the closest friends to long lost acquaintances, because sometimes, the people you least expect will be the ones who support you the most. Fundraising is not easy. You really have to be proactive and patient!” 
Click here to check out Ruth’s personal website to keep up to date with her remarkable travels!
Click here to support Ruth’s climb and to donate to the children of Nkoaranga Orphanage.