Anne’s passion is helping disadvantaged kids become all that they can be. She wants them to know their options and be given the hand up they deserve. Anne’s background somewhat explains her particular focus on homeless, foster, and orphan children. She was born at the beginning of the Great Depression, the oldest of 10 children. They were miserably poor, sometimes cold or hungry, and they wore hand-me-downs. For a short time they were homeless, living out of a homemade trailer and a truck with a covered-wagon top. For a longer period, they lived in a tent on the bare ground without electricity or running water. But Anne remembers that people were often kind, and the family never lost hope.
When Anne was ready for high school, her second-grade teacher saw potential in her and paid her tuition at boarding school in California. Anne went on to work her own way, with the help of assistantships and scholarships, to an RN, two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, and a PhD in Communications. Anne feels that this would not have been possible without the help of caring teachers and mentors. She says, “I want to pay it forward.”
Anne’s work and life experiences have given her a foundation for empowering children in many ways. She taught at university level for several years and advised students, interns, and student professional organizations in a number of fields. She taught English as a foreign language in Spain and has traveled in more than 100 countries. She lived abroad for extended periods in such countries as Egypt and Nigeria. She worked in the health field for many years, including inspecting children’s homes and clinics. She served as a mentor for a number of at-risk children and still keeps in touch with one girl that she mentored from ages 6 to 21.
Helping kids has a 3-generation history in Anne’s family. When an orphanage in which he had an interest folded, her grandfather took in 5 orphans and brought them up with the help of her grandmother and aunt. As a little girl, Anne helped bathe, dress, and feed baby orphans at a children’s home and school her parents founded in rural New Mexico. A few years ago, one of those orphans paid her a surprise visit in Wisconsin. Since founding Challenge Youth Fund in 2004, Anne has volunteered with or supported a number of organizations for at-risk children, either personally or through the fund. “But,” she says, “I want to help more children.” Getting funds to do this is the purpose of her audacious plan to set a World Record climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro as an 85-years-young great-grandmother.
It’s not as absurd as it sounds. Anne says, “I’m not a professional climber, but I have always loved hiking.” At 76, Anne climbed Pikes Peak and 4 other mountains over 14,000 feet. She has climbed mountains in the western United States and Mexico, as well as Ayers Rock in Australia, the Great Pyramid in Egypt and the pyramid in Mexico City. She trains by climbing Mummy Mountain daily with her little dog, as well as other mountains around Arizona. Just before going to Africa, she plans to spend time in Colorado Springs to acclimate to a higher altitude and climb taller peaks. Anne comments, “If I combine my love of climbing mountains with my passion for helping kids, what could be better?”