ASRC's Hardt plans Everest climb to support Boys and Girls Club
Some of us go to extremes for the things we love, some of us love extremes. For Ty Hardt, it's both.
In late March, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation's communications director departs for the base of Mt. Everest in Kathmandu, where he will attempt a climb of Earth's highest peak - 29,035 feet into the sky.
Not only will he be able to add this adventure to the list of mountains he's tackled, Hardt will be using the climb as an opportunity to fundraise for a community cause - Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska.
The Barrow club, as well as others statewide, will benefit through donations and sponsorship channeled through the expedition's website, www.g2extremes.com.
"The donations to the Going to Extremes expedition are paid directly to Boys and Girls Club Alaska and are tax deductible," Hardt said.
The Barrow Boys and Girls Club, located in Ipalook Elementary, serves more than 130 kids from Ipalook and Eben Hopson Middle School.
Boys and Girls Clubs Alaska CEO Alana Humphrey called the expedition a unique fundraising effort, one that will help the state's
programs extend their reach into Alaska communities.
Loss of funding has led to closures across Alaska, said Humphrey, so any support is not only welcome but vital to keeping more clubs open.
"We've actually closed 11 clubs in the last four years," Humphrey said. "This past year we closed New Stuyahok and Nuiqsut."
Most of the time a club closes it's a strictly financial decision.
"In the past six years we've lost over $5 million in federal pass through funding," she said. "As that funding has declined we've had to rely more and more on individual communities."
When you look at the numbers, closures are definitely having an affect.
Seven years ago Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska served 15,000 to 18,000 kids - now it's down around 10,000.
This has made the need for community partnership even greater, Humphrey said. She offered Wainwright as a good example of a community and club working effectively to keep the club open.
"The clubs that are open actually have levels of community partnership that keep them open, because we can no longer do it ourselves," Humphrey said.
There are currently about 400 people serving in volunteer roles in communities across Alaska, she said, another important part of keeping clubs open.
Selina Booth has run the Barrow clubhouse for about six years.
"She just totally makes her club house work," Humphrey said.
Hardt hopes to add to its success with his upcoming trip overseas.
The veteran climber has made a number of other significant assents, including Mount Aconcagua, three trips up Denali, Mount Kilimanjara, two attempts at Mount Bona, and Mount Rainier three times. He didn't make it to the top of Mount Bona either time, Hardt said, but that didn't take away from the thrill of the challenge.
"I really do think that most people are wired for the need to be challenged," Hardt said, "to set a target that requires an enormous amount of time and effort to hit, and one that forces you to test yourself."
The nature of that challenge isn't as important, he said.
"For some people, this could mean a marathon," Hardt said. "For others - it could mean opening a business, overcoming a disability or even public speaking. Through that struggle you can learn a lot about yourself and perhaps showcase a bit of confidence or inner-strength you didn't even know you had."
Now he'll be coupling that opportunity for personal growth with one for community growth.
When it came to a destination for donation funds, Hardt said, the club seemed just right.
"My son and daughter were both club kids," he said, "so I've personally seen the difference that BGC can make in a young person's life. Given the fact that my wife is the government relations director for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and I have a connection through my work at Arctic Slope Regional Corporation to the club in Barrow, it really seemed like a perfect fit."
Kids and adults interested in Hardt's progress will be able to see regular updates on the expedition website, mentioned above.
Sponsorship information can also be found at www.bgcalaska.org.
Boys and Girls Clubs are excellent resources in any community, Hardt said, and especially important in rural Alaska.
"There are few options like the Boys & Girls Club for the children in Barrow or the North Slope in general," Hardt said. "Between Ipalook Elementary and Hopson Middle School, there are more than 800 kids in Barrow alone who could use a facility like this and frequently do. Of course, ASRC has been a supporter of the club because of the benefit to its shareholders and the local community."
Much like the rest of Alaska's clubs, the Barrow Boys and Girls club has faced financial challenges.
"With declining federal funding, communities are being asked to assume more of the operation costs of Clubhouse programs," Hardt said. "Less funding translates into fewer staff and fewer hours. Research shows that effective mentoring programs, like Boys and Girls Clubs, are most impactful when youth are able to connect with an adult mentor, consistently, over the course of time."
Current sponsors of the expedition and therefor the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska include Alaska Communications - a longtime club supporter - the Aleut Corporation, KPMG, Ice Diva Designs, Sugarsled Creative, the North Slope Borough Mayor's Office, and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.
Hardt estimates that the entire expedition will take at least seven weeks, considering the slow acclimatization process needed for a climb of such height. Everest's base camp is at 17,500 feet, which is higher than Denali's highest camp.
If the trip goes according to plan, the climb team will reach the summit in mid-May.
Hannah Heimbuch can be reached at email@example.com.