Kansas woman prepares for the climb of her life
When Diane Molitor Palmer turned 65, she wasn’t content to sit back and eat cake.
Instead, she decided to climb the seventh tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
A challenge? Sure. But the challenge of the climb is only part of her mission.
“Growing up the youngest of nine from a wonderful hard-working Kansas farm family gave me the opportunity to see ‘charity’ first hand,” Palmer explained. “My parents didn’t talk about charity, they did charity. Whenever they could help a neighbor, a friend, a relative or fellow church member they did. Today we call it ‘walk the talk.’”
On Jan. 16, the native of Willowdale, Kansas will fly to Africa (that in itself an adventure), where she’ll begin her “charity climb” of Mt. Kilimanjaro to benefit the children of five different African Catholic missions, most of which are supported by Sisters here in Southwest Kansas.
One might say that the seeds of her future mission first took root more than 45 years ago, when Palmer was a freshman at St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City. There, her aunt, Sister Lillian Molitor, CSJ, taught Latin, English, and home economics.
“She was a wonderful nun,” Palmer said.
Another aunt, Sister Emma Molitor, CSJ, had served as a nurse, radiological technician, and pharmacist at Pratt Hospital. She also had served as a missionary in Japan.
Years later, Palmer heard that the Sister Adorers of the Blood of Christ had a mission in Africa, and after a bit of research learned that the ministries of several Religious orders reached into the depths of Africa -- ministering, providing medical care, and teaching the nation’s most vulnerable – the children.
“These nuns devoted their entire lives to education and health care,” Palmer said. “What better way to give back to them for their help, than by helping the children through our funds?”
Palmer’s desire to help the children in Africa “one child at a time” keeps her focused as she struggles in training for the six-day climb to the “roof of Africa.” One recent training session included stair stepping a gasp-inducing 10,150 steps, the equivalent of walking the stairs of a 634-story building.
When the Register contacted Palmer in early December, she was preparing to top her recent stair stepping record by climbing an astounding 11,600 stair steps at Cessna Stadium in Wichita -- equivalent to marching up the stairs of a 725-story building.
And as if climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro weren’t enough, Palmer plans to visit and volunteer at each of the five Catholic missions, traveling more than 4,000 miles within Africa after her climb. She said she will see where each dollar goes and “look into the eyes of the children who directly benefit from the donations.”
“I’m just kind of like an instrument,” she said in response to the Register asking about the intense pace. “I don’t know how I’m doing it either. I’m not an athlete, not a gym rat. I’m not a huge marathon runner. But if I put my mind to something, if I have a goal, I’ll do whatever I can to reach it. The angels are watching after me.
“The training program is a big challenge, but nothing like the challenges African children face every day,” she said. “That is why I am doing the Charity Climb.”
You can follow Diane through her training, on her climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaroi, on safari in the Serengeti, and to the five missions. Visit her at her “blogspot”, www.adventurediane.blogspot.com, twitter@adventurediane or facebook Diane Palmer.
All funds collected will go directly to the missions. Donations can be made either to Palmer at Diane Molitor Palmer, Mt. Kili Charity Climb, PO Box 543, Wichita, KS 67201, or to the specific mission, by going to its website. Missions that will benefit from her climb include:
• The Dominican Sisters of Peace (which includes a motherhouse in Great Bend), Kaduna, Nigeria, Hope for the Village Child, www.oppeace.org;
• Sisters of Charity, BVM, Kumasi, Ghana, The Library and Literacy Center, www.bvmcong.org;
• Adorers of the Blood of Christ, Manyoni, Tanzania, Schools for children, www.adorers.org;
• Congregation of St. Joseph Sisters, Songea, Tanzania, School for girls in rural areas, www.csjoseph.org and; • Christian Foundation For Children & Aging, Nairobi, Kenya, Education and Nutrition, www.cfcausa.org.