Rising Above
Taking a charitable cause to new heights
by Nathan Dinsdale
photo by Luis Garcia

Some people sell raffle tickets. Others hold bake sales and car washes. Some race for cures and circulate petitions. Others host benefit concerts and black-tie banquets.

Georgina Miranda climbs mountains.

In July, Miranda ’03 journeyed to the Caucasus range in southwestern Russia to climb Mt. Elbrus. But she wasn’t tackling Europe’s highest summit (18,510 feet) just because it’s there. The ascent initiated her quest to climb the tallest peaks on all seven continents in an effort to raise money and awareness for imperiled women in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Miranda readily acknowledges that a petite 27-year-old who loves ABBA (“Dancing Queen” in particular) and Sense & Sensibility doesn’t exactly fit the typical profile for someone attempting one of the world’s most difficult mountaineering feats. “I always got the ‘Most Improved’ award for every [sports] team I was on,” she says with a self-deprecating laugh. “I was never known for being an athlete.”

But what started as a hobby — with family trips to Yosemite and hikes around Torrey Pines while studying business administration at USD — became a passion when she entered the MBA program at Loyola Marymount.

“It was literally just to keep my sanity,” Miranda says. “Working full-time and going to school full-time was tough, and it was a great mental break to get outdoors.”

She toyed with climbing the “Seven Summits” as much for the globe-trotting adventure as the grueling physical challenge. But she found her ultimate source of inspiration in an unlikely place — the glossy pages of Glamour magazine.

Miranda was casually leafing through the August 2007 issue — looking for haircut tips, no less — when a story written by playwright Eve Ensler stopped her cold. The article offered a horrifying description of women who’d been scarred by gruesome violence in war-torn Congo.

Miranda was deeply shaken by the graphic accounts and spent hours researching the crisis while looking for ways she could help. She found the International Medical Corps, a humanitarian organization that provides relief and training to distressed populations, and decided to use her climbing skills to aide the IMC mission.

“This wouldn’t be what it is if there wasn’t a cause behind it,” Miranda says. “Now climbing the Seven Summits has a whole different meaning.

While still working full-time for a Los Angeles real-estate developer, Miranda has worked tirelessly to secure sponsors while operating a Web site and training up to seven days a week. But she says her biggest uphill climb isn’t an actual uphill climb. “The hardest part isn’t the training,” Miranda says. “It’s getting people to care.”

Miranda hopes to raise $50 for every meter she climbs. If she manages to hit that goal while scaling all Seven Summits, she will have trekked 43,324 meters while raising more than $2 million. But her success ultimately won’t be calculated in metric or monetary gains.

“I’m not going to solve the world’s problems by climbing a mountain,” Miranda says. “But if I can impact one life, that’s huge, because that’s one person who might not have had a chance otherwise.”

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