MEET MOUNTAINCHILD: an exploratory trip turned into a lifetime of service, and 2020 turned bringing hope into a virtual community of success.
What led to the creation of MountainChild?
The beginnings of MountainChild followed an exploratory trip to the Himalayas to investigate reports of severe medical, educational, societal, and environmental challenges facing children and villagers in remote villages. That trip confirmed reports of high childhood mortality rates due to preventable illnesses caused by unclean water. It revealed trafficking routes through rural villages and connected the dots between the lack of education and the vulnerability of many living in remote villages. It revealed a lack of adequate health care and antiquated environmental practices that only contribute to the problems of poor nutrition, severe poverty, and child labor. It revealed a vicious cycle of suffering that broke our hearts. We knew we had to do something. Twenty years in, and we’re serving the most remoteTibetan locations in the Himalayas, focusing our time, resources, and energy on those who have the least access to basic needs. Over the last twenty years, our organization has grown and pivoted strategy, but our mission to carry hope to the Himalayas has stayed the same!
How are you seeing the Lord move in the Himalayas?
Meeting the urgent physical needs carries tangible hope to this across the Himalayas. For example, our HALO project is Nepal’s first emergency helicopter airlift operation that we started 2 years ago. This program serves remote villages with no access to advanced emergency health care and brings patients with critical conditions by helicopter to Kathmandu to receive life-saving medical attention that they would not have otherwise. The program is saving lives. It also is used to build relationships and tangible trust among remote villages and has opened the door for greater impact by providing opportunities for community development programs in those areas. HALO is just one example of how, from rescue to return, MountainChild staff seeks to exemplify the love of Christ through detailed, thorough, and generous care. We know hope is working in the Himalayas, and we are grateful to come alongside and do our part. HALO is just one program we clearly see his hand at work!
Due to the many challenges of 2020, you moved your Run4Hope event online. What were some of the challenges you faced in doing this, and how did you work through them?
Learning that we needed to transition to our event to a completely virtual event was a little bit of a relief. As lockdowns continued and social distancing expectations thickened, the thought of hosting a live event in compliance seemed near impossible. When we got word from our venue that they were no longer hosting live events, we knew we had a big transition ahead of us. But we also know this challenge was providing the opportunity to develop and enhance the existing virtual race portion of our annual event.
As we considered making the transition to a completely virtual event, we already had a platform to work from. The challenge was in figuring our how to enhance our existing virtual race option to virtually rally our MountainChild community — something our live event is so well known for. We knew we needed to create an experience that would bring people from all over the world together. Even though they couldn’t participate in person, we wanted our event to feel personal.
The first thing we knew we needed to do was to develop an interactive race website that would be a rallying place for participants on the day of the event. We envisioned live metrics and leaderboards that would allow participants to share results, watch live updates, and follow along with throughout the day. And that’s exactly what our web developers were able to construct! This was a huge success and a great way to build community on the day of the event.
We also tried something on social media that we hadn’t seen before. We posted every hour for twenty-four hours. This feature served as a virtual emcee if you will. As participants started their races around the world and across different time zones, we were able to share our heart and mission over the course of the event. We shared awareness posts about MountainChild and our five Core Issues, impact and goal updates, swag giveaways, and stories of hope. This was another big success and really served to help personalize this year’s event.
Along with creating the race day community, we knew our virtual race boxes needed an upgrade. They were a huge hit! Along with our race day shirts and medals, each participant got a commemorative Run4Hope face buff to remember the year we all wore face masks. Elevating our race boxes brought the wow factor we were hoping they would! One of the challenges, however, was getting all that swag assembled and delivered. Fund the Nations quickly designed and delivered the new addition of our buffs. And for two weeks, volunteers and staff assembled and stuffed over 400 Race Day Boxes to outfit 825 Run4Hope participants. Many of these boxes were hand-delivered to participants in the Denver area by local volunteers — which was a great way to utilize volunteers who often serve at our live event.
The challenges of transitioning our event to be completely virtual provided us the opportunity to take our virtual race to the next level! It forced us to get creative and innovative, and it developed our event in ways we didn’t originally intend. We believe this will have a big impact on how we do Run4Hope in the future. One thing we do know for sure, our virtual race is awesome!
If someone wants to get involved and help make a difference through MountainChild, what advice do you have for them, and how can they get involved?
There are a few big ways you can get involved with MountainChild:
- Join ELEVATE | ELEVATE is a community of people who are passionate about doing something big in the Himalayas from right where they are! These monthly supporters empower ongoing work in the most remote pockets of the Himalayas to provide education, clean water, health care, and programs that protect those most vulnerable to trafficking and child labor. For $29 a month, you can raise hope in the Himalayas. You can learn more at https://mountainchild.org/elevate.
- Volunteer | Your time and passion are invaluable resources! When you volunteer, you empower the mission of MountainChild right where you are. Email Audrey at email@example.com for more info!
- Join Run4Hope 2021 Sign up for our weekly Frontline newsletter to get all the details and early registration pricing. https://mountainchild.org
- Follow Along | Join us over on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on all things MountainChild!
If you could tell the world one thing about serving others, what would you say?
Serving others isn’t a short term project. It’s a lifelong calling that carries hope to the world.