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Two high-ranking Wilton police officers will take fundraising to new heights next year on behalf of the Special Olympics.
Lt. David Hartman and Lt. Robert Kluk will join a team of law enforcement officers from across Connecticut in February to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. The event will help to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics Connecticut and its athletes.
Hartman said the idea behind the fundraising event came from Cheshire School Resource Officer David Maliar.
“He came up with this idea of getting a group of officers who are willing to hike the tallest mountain you can hike without special climbing equipment,” Hartman said.
Located in Tanzania and standing at 19,341 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak on the African continent. The group will work with a company called REI to help them to the top.
Hartman said he was immediately on board due to his passion of helping to raise funds for the Special Olympics. Both Kluk and Hartman are hoping to raise a minimum of $10,000 a piece. To donate to the team, visit www.classy.org/team/217977. Online donations can be also be made directly at Hartman’s individual page: www.classy.org/fundraiser/1938484 and Kluk’s individual page: www.classy.org/fundraiser/1920947.
Hartman said he and his fellow officers have already begun preparation for the hike.
“Going forward in this year it’s all about training and raising money and awareness for the Special Olympics,” Hartman said.
To prepare for the event, officers have been hiking, biking and running. Hartman said high-intensity training will prepare them for the toughest part of the hike — the altitude.
“When you start getting them high up, there’s about 50 percent of oxygen in the air,” he said. “Your body has to do more with less.”
The expedition is a 10-day adventure. It will take about six days to get to the summit and two to descend. Hiking around Connecticut has become a large part of the officers’ training for the expedition.
“As a group every weekend, somebody is going on a hike to a different location around the state,” Hartman said. “Anybody that’s available goes with them.”
Throughout the week officers also do individual hikes, he said. Later this year, the group is planning to hike Mount Katahdin in Maine and Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
“We’re trying to see higher altitudes, though it won’t be anywhere close to Kilimanjaro,” Hartman said. “This is stuff we’re doing to get used to hiking for hours.”
Hartman said while hiking is cool, what’s really important is helping raise funds for the Special Olympics.
“We take it very seriously in law enforcement,” he said. “We find it very important to be able to help the Special Olympics and the people they serve.”