Climbing for Blake

David Robinson during his Mount Kilimanjaro trek.

David Robinson during his Mount Kilimanjaro trek.

Inspired by nephew’s battle with rare disease, alumnus makes trek to Kilimanjaro summit.

As David Robinson '93 rang in 2012, he resolved to take on an extraordinary challenge that not only would allow him to physically push himself, but would increase awareness of a rare genetic disorder and raise money to help find a cure.

Robinson, who lives and works in Los Angeles, decided to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in the East African country of Tanzania. The January adventure would take him a week, and he trained for the 39-mile trek by hitting the gym and taking weekly hikes.

The inspiration for his journey came from Robinson's 11-year-old nephew, Blake Robinson. Blake was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF) when he was 18 months old. The disease affects the brain, spinal cord, nerves and skin, and it is characterized by frequent development of tumors. Blake has had five brain surgeries and several other procedures since his diagnosis more than nine years ago.

Robinson and his family host a running event every year for Blake, but Robinson wanted to take that annual effort a step further. Striving to mirror his nephew's enduring positive attitude, Robinson set out to reach one of the most challenging feats that he has ever faced.

Mount Kilimanjaro is considered an extremely challenging and often underestimated mountain because of its high altitude, low temperatures and high winds.

But the challenge did not deter Robinson. He arrived at the mountain in late January and climbed for five days, along with his friend from high school, to reach the summit.

Robinson said the hardest day was the final push to the summit. Robinson and his fellow climbers had to start the six-hour hike at midnight that day, and the climb was exhausting.

Even so, the adventure was extremely successful. Robinson set a fundraising goal of $25,000 for the Children's Tumor Foundation, and as of late February, he had exceeded it, with $33,700 in total funds.

Robinson - who is senior vice president of production at Morgan Creek Productions, an independent film production company - attributes much of his fundraising success to Roanoke College friends and alumni. Many of his former classmates from the college, where Robinson majored in International Relations, supported his goal by donating and spreading the word.

Follow Robinson's fundraising activity and donate to the cause here.

--Posted Feb. 29, 2012

Released: February 29, 2012