Fitness Expert Michael Wood and Thomson Safaris Team Up for Charity Climb in Memory of Daughter

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When national fitness expert, Michael Wood, CSCS, attempts to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in February 2008 with Thomson Safaris (Watertown, MA), his self-motivation may come from somewhere other than his 20 years of experience in the strength-training and fitness industry.

This is a way we can keep Olivia's name and memory alive and with a good cause and vision behind it.

When national fitness expert, Michael Wood, attempts to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in February 2008 with Thomson Safaris, his self-motivation may come from somewhere other than his 20 years of experience in the strength-training and fitness industry.

Just as methodically as he trains, Wood is raising donations for the Olivia Wood Scholarship Fund, a fund he and his wife started in the name of their daughter, who passed away when she was only 8 years old. The fund awards a college tuition scholarship to a senior at the K-12 school in Foxboro, Massachusetts where Olivia had started elementary school and where Olivia's twin sister, Julia, is now in the 7th grade.

With corporate and individual sponsors backing his climb, Wood hopes the fund will rise in mountain-like proportions, so more scholarships can be offered. His goal is to raise $19,340, which equals one dollar for each foot of the 19,340-foot climb to Uhuru Peak. Wood will also donate a portion of the funds raised to Friends of Tanzanian Schools, a Thomson Safaris sponsored non-profit that supports education in Tanzania, including schools near Kilimanjaro.

"It has been a lifelong dream of mine to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but now it has become something bigger and more meaningful," said Wood, who is currently the chief fitness officer for Koko Fitness and founder of a consulting company, Sports Performance Group. "This is a way we can keep Olivia's name and memory alive and with a good cause and vision behind it."

Wood explained that Olivia had been born with a congenital heart defect, but she did not show any signs of complication before she passed away just 9 days after her 8th birthday. The Kilimanjaro trek happens to fall just before the 5th anniversary of Olivia's passing.

"The last thing anyone wants to have happen to them is to lose a child," said Wood. "If I can make this climb, I have an opportunity to be as high and close to heaven and to Olivia that I will ever get on earth. There is a spiritual connection for me. I am sure it is going to be emotional."

Wood, who has been recognized as one of Boston's and the nation's best trainers by the likes of Men's Journal and Boston Magazine, has already begun blogging about his self-customized Kilimanjaro training (http://www.climbingmtkilimanjaro.blogspot.com/), and anyone can follow his daily Kilimanjaro travel blogs during the actual climb on February 2-11, 2008. In fact, the 46-year-old former collegiate basketball player is becoming something of a physiological trekking experiment, as he is taking extensive notes on his training program, and he will be meticulously recording physiological data while climbing. Wood hopes to use the data to offer future Kilimanjaro climbers and clients more thorough training and fitness consultation.

For press information, or to set up an interview with Michael Wood, contact Jeremy O'Kasick at Thomson Safaris by phone (1-800-235-0289).

Michael Wood
Michael Wood has worked for 20 years in the fitness industry with positions as business director at Velocity Sports Performance, strength and conditioning coach at the University of Connecticut, and senior exercise physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at Tufts University Research Center on Aging. Besides his positions with Koko Fitness and Sports Performance Group, Wood serves on the exercise review boards for several websites.

Thomson Safaris
Committed and connected to Tanzania since 1981, Thomson Safaris (http://www.thomsonsafaris.com) offers Africa adventures and Kilimanjaro climbs that have been recommended by world-renowned mountaineer and filmmaker, David Breashears. Winning the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Tanzania Tourist Board, Thomson Safaris has always strived to be a leader in community-based and eco-friendly tourism.

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