P&Ger Sean Lee Just Climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro … for Love

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 9:52 am EST

While the rest of us were probably ringing in the New Year and taking time off work the first few days of January 2015, Sean Lee (P&G eBusiness team) was on a plane headed 8,000 miles from home—mentally preparing himself to tackle a tough challenge that had been more than a year in the making.

His challenge? Climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in six days, alongside nine of his closest (or perhaps craziest) friends. His reason was simple:

“For love.”

It all started in 2009 when Sean met Robin, who is now his Fiancé and the love of his life. Robin was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 3. And although she does very well managing the everyday challenges of her disease, Type 1 Diabetes is a never-ending burden that requires constant monitoring, equipment and insulin.

So early in their relationship, Sean made it his personal mission in life to do everything he could to help find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes in his lifetime.

Since then, he has poured a tremendous amount of time and energy into the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), where he serves on their Emerging Leaders Council and chairs their annual fundraising event in the Fall.

“Every day, I wake up and wish I could make this disease go away for Robin, and I feel helpless. I’m not a research scientist, so I can't directly impact finding a cure. But I am a marketer and an adventure-seeker, and I CAN use those assets to indirectly help find a cure by raising money and awareness for JDRF. I’m confident that this disease can and will be cured in the next 25 years.”

Four years ago, Sean rode his bicycle 105 miles through Death Valley to raise money for JDRF. Using social media to reach family, friends and the local business community, he raised $4,500.

The success from that experience inspired him to keep challenging himself to plan fundraisers every few years. Kilimanjaro, his second big fundraiser, “had always been on my bucket list,” he said.

The view from Kilimanjaro summit base camp, Day 5

His original fundraising goal for Kilimanjaro was $5,000, but “I blew past that in the first 1 to 2 months,” he says. So he raised it to $20,000 and exceeded that goal, too. Finally, he raised it to $23,000 in late November 2014, and surpassed that within a week of leaving for the climb. (Sean finds the number 23 quite fitting, since it’s the number of years Robin has been living with Juvenile Diabetes.)

Sean can tell you story after story from his incredible climb to the summit. But most importantly, his months of preparation and training paid off, and he became one of the estimated 40-60% climbers who make it all the way to the top. (Only one of his nine friends had to stop just 100 meters short of the summit due to elevation sickness.)

Sean (middle, in the fluorescent green coat) and his friends pose for a photo at the Summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

* * * * *

The drive to tackle big challenges—both professionally and personally—is a common thread among P&G people. Sean is certainly no exception.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to think big, dream big and go after big goals. Everyone I’ve worked with at P&G generally has that same drive. We don’t dwell on the roadblocks, or why we won’t succeed. Being around so many great people at P&G amplifies the things I do in my personal life. That passion is infectious, and it spreads.”

As for future fundraising plans, Sean says he’ll be basking in the success of this trip for a few months before he starts planning his next one, which will be even bigger than Kilimanjaro. “The more exotic and extreme it is, the more people are willing to get behind it. There’s a direct correlation.”

Sean’s wish in telling his story is simple. “I hope it inspires people to dream big in their own personal lives, and have causes that are special to them that touch and improve the lives of others.”

Thanks, Sean, for showing us what the view is like when you dream big, driven by a love for others. It’s not just inspiring. It’s breath-taking.

Sunset at Shira Camp on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Day 2

View of Kilimanjaro’s inactive volcanic crater coming down from the summit, Day 6


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