Cranbrook student to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro raising money for clean water

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It's estimated that 663 million people live without clean water. A Bloomfield Hills high school student is doing something to help change that. 

Tommy Feng is just 17 years old but he's been training for months ahead of his August plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, It's the tallest mountain in Africa but Feng is determined to best it. 

The junior at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills returned to his native country of China for training ahead of his Mt. Kilimanjaro climb, planned for August. He was in China when we talked to him via Skype and he said there's a reason he picked Kilimanjaro.

"I know that people in Africa lack basic needs. I wanted to do something for them but I couldn't figure out what," he said.  I read something about charity climbs for mountains I thought I could do that too and Kilimanjaro would be a great choice."

He learned that a large amount of people in Africa lack certain basic needs, specifically clean water. So he's making his climb for Charity: Water, an organization dedicated to making sure everyone has access to clean and safe drinking water.

"There are a lot of people at the foot of the climb that don't have access to clean water, that's a common thing in Africa and we are trying to change that. I can't change that on my own is why I need everyone's help," he said.

It's not easy. Tommy's climbed mountains before in Alaska and Peru but Mt. Kilimanjaro it's different. At almost 20,000 feet, it's the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. 

Tommy's plan is to make the trek in six days, taking on 60 kilometers while facing strong winds, cold temperatures, and mountain sickness.

"For the climbing part, it is going to the gym every day climbing stairs," he said. "For the altitude part, there is either you can take the meds or test climbs at nearby mountains. I am scared a little bit it is like 20,000 feet."

Thousands of people pay to make the climb but few do it for charity. Tommy hopes to raise $5,000 on his GoFundMe to help some of the world's poorest people get the water they need.

"It feels great when you get to the top and see everything," he said. "It is the sense of achievement that comes to you that you did this."

TO DONATE: Go to Tommy's GoFundMe page here.