SOURCE: Helen Keller International

Helen Keller International

July 13, 2015 09:00 ET

Helen Keller International Joins the END Fund for Summit to See the END

NGO Celebrates Centennial Anniversary With Kilimanjaro Climb to End Neglected Tropical Diseases

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - July 13, 2015) - Helen Keller International (HKI) is pleased to announce its participation in the Summit to See the END climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, July 11-19, 2015 to raise awareness about and funds for the treatment and prevention of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Summit to See the END is an initiative of the END Fund, a leading, catalytic partner in the global movement to control and eliminate the five most common NTDs by 2020.

NTDs, "diseases of poverty," are a group of parasitic and bacterial infections that are often extremely painful and lead to disability and illness for one in six people globally, most often the poorest and most vulnerable people among us. NTDs include trachoma, lymphatic filariasis (which can cause elephantiasis), onchocerciasis (river blindness), and intestinal worms -- all of which are avoidable and treatable.

Led by Helen Keller International President and CEO, Kathy Spahn, Team HKI has raised nearly $100,000 ahead of the climb to support the elimination of NTDs. This includes corporate support from Altra that includes trail sneakers for each member of the team, as well as use of its NordicTrack home fitness equipment.

HKI is a dedicated supporter of the World Health Organization's NTD elimination goals with programs to combat neglected tropical diseases through drug treatment, surgeries and promotion of improved hygiene and sanitation in 13 African counties, including Tanzania, as well as in Asia. Its programs reach more than 300 million people each year.

All Summit to See the End teams will take on Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world's great peaks, as part of a seven-day journey. They will reach the 19,341 ft. (5,895 m) summit on day six, all the while inspired by the millions of people living with NTDs and moving closer to the day when these terrible scourges have finally been eliminated.

The day after the hike, participants will attend an NTD learning day visit NTD control programs run by the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology, the largest ophthalmic research and community eye care training center in Africa. The teams will first visit the Longido Health District in the Arusha Region of northern Tanzania. There, they will meet with district health officials and learn about NTD activities taking place in the district. From there, the group will drive to nearby Sinya village, where they will observe trachiasis surgeries and meet with local residents being served by trachoma control programs.

In addition to Spahn, Team HKI includes HKI Board of Trustees Chair, Henry Barkhorn; and HKI Trustee and Executive Vice President, Asia Pacific, for Fossil Inc., Randy Belcher.

"This is the first time I've done something like this to undertake a goal to promote HKI," said Spahn about the climb. An avid climber, this will be her first Kilimanjaro challenge and her most ambitious.

"This climb represents taking on very important goals for me personally and professionally. I'll be striving to reach new heights for myself, as well as for HKI in raising much needed attention and support toward the eliminating NTDs, something HKI has become increasingly involved with over the past decade. It also represents two vital team efforts: one in making the climb and one in raising the funds. I could not do either without my teams! To quote our organization's founder, Helen Keller, 'Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.'"

To support Team HKI's Summit to See the END climb, visit www.hki.org/kilimanjaro

About HKI

Founded in 1915, Helen Keller International's mission is to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. HKI combats the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health, and nutrition. HKI is the 2014 recipient of the Kravis Prize for Leadership and the recipient of the 2015 BBVA Foundation's Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Development Cooperation. Visit www.hki.org for more information.

About The END Fund

The END Fund is a leader in the global health movement to tackle NTDs, working collaboratively with committed partners including global health organizations, visionary investors, pharmaceutical companies, leaders from developing countries affected by NTDs, and those who suffer from the diseases themselves. We work with the common goal of improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

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