Michelle Havens is the youngest of six children. At the age of six her dad died in a car accident, leaving her mother to raise the children as a single parent.
But Havens never thought she was missing out. Her mother worked tirelessly to provide the best she could for her children and introduced them to the great outdoors.
On Aug. 18, Havens, coordinator for the Office of Equal Opportunity at CSU, will attempt to climb and summit Mt. Rainier near Seattle to benefit at-risk youth through a program called Summit for Someone, aimed at benefiting at-risk youth through donations and the opportunity to climb one of Americaâ€™s most sought after peaks.
â€œItâ€™s crucial for these youth to have role models who can show them the amazing potential they have and have not been able to discover,â€ Havens said. â€œIf I can make an impact on one at-risk youth, Iâ€™ll consider it a success.â€
Summit for Someone is just one of the many programs put on by Big City Mountaineers, an outdoor mentoring program for under-privileged urban youth using nature to broaden horizons and instill critical thinking skills.
Havens must raise $4,000 to attempt the climb and is asking friends, family and anyone willing to contribute for support.
â€œThe fundraising has been the hardest part of my journey thus far. People just donâ€™t have a lot of spare change lying around to donate,â€ Havens said.
The climb Havens has decided to attempt, Mt. Rainier, stands at 14,410 feet and is the most extensively glaciated volcanic peaks in the continental U.S.
Most recently, Havens completed the Adventure Xstream Series in Moab, Utah with her boyfriend, Josh. The couple was challenged through mountain biking, trail running, map navigation and orienteering. Though normally a 12-hour race, the co-ed team finished in eight and a half hours.
Havens said the couple shares a love for the outdoors and learned a lot about each other through the Moab race.
â€œJosh has been one of my biggest supporters and inspirations in preparing for the climb,â€ Havens said.
Another friend and supporter encouraging Havens through her climb preparation is Kinda Carpenter, the employee relations manager in CSUâ€™s Human Resources Department.
Sharing Havensâ€™ love for the outdoors, Carpenter said it was hard not to donate for something so great that gives youth the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature.
â€œYou can see both Michelleâ€™s passion for helping others and love of the outdoors,â€
Havens said her love for the outdoors began as a young child, and she recognizes the ability the outdoors have to challenge youth and allows them to discover their potential through defying situations.
Inspired by her mom, Havens said she has been immersed with the power of the outdoors and believes youth can reveal strength within themselves they never knew existed.
â€œMy mom always pushed us outside whether it was skiing, camping, rock climbing or outdoor camp during the summers,â€ Havens said.
A friend and former coworker of Havens, Cristie Sexton, the departmental administrator and business officer for the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, believes Havens is the perfect fit for the summit challenge.
â€œI can vicariously live through Michelleâ€™s adventures and immense courage and generosity that she has demonstrated,â€ Sexton said.
For more information on Havensâ€™ journey and to find out how to donate visit: www.summitforsomeone.org.
Staff writer Allison Knaus can be reached at email@example.com.