Challenges Can Lead to Opportunities – Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

By Carla Goulart and Victoria Fields 12/21/2022
Challenges Can Lead to Opportunities – Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

Carla Goulart is Senior Director, AbilityOne Strategic Business Development for SourceAmerica and Victoria Fields, CFCM, is Senior Manager, Account Services Navy/Defense Commissary Agency for SourceAmerica

On October 15, 2022, we climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The planning took almost a year, and we are forever grateful to our guides for making it possible for us to reach the top. At the summit, we placed an American flag made by a nonprofit agency which employs people with disabilities through the AbilityOne® Program and the SourceAmerica® network. Employees with disabilities from Goodwill South Florida make just under 83,000 interment flags a year that are draped over caskets of fallen service members.

Carla: Why Climb Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Kilimanjaro opened up a world of what was possible. Many times in life we decide, with no backup, what is possible and what isn’t. We limit ourselves before we ever get started. When I made the decision to attempt the climb, that set in motion goals that I never anticipated nor would have thought possible.

Why take this particular American flag to the top with us? The AbilityOne Program opens up possibilities for individuals who don’t think they have possibilities. It provides opportunities for those who often don’t have a voice. Carrying a flag made by an employee in the AbilityOne program up Mount Kilimanjaro, to me, was demonstrating that we shouldn’t put limits on ourselves, nor do we dare put limits on someone else. Each of us has possibilities — some possibilities that we aren’t even aware of yet.

Victoria: “One Team, One Dream”

It was Carla’s brilliant idea to bring the American flag and she so kindly invited me on this adventure when I was going through a hard time in my life, and I could no longer imagine my future. We first talked about it in January and the trip was planned for October, so it was just what I needed — something to look forward to in the future. For me, the journey (planning, training, preparing and then hiking with an amazing team of people) was just as meaningful as getting to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Step by step, “One Team, One Dream” was our motto as we neared the top.

It was truly an honor to hold the American flag with Carla at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and to know it was made by individuals in the AbilityOne Program. It felt so meaningful. We all face challenges in life and sometimes those challenges can lead to opportunities if we are open and willing to keep going. I’m so grateful to have a friend like Carla who invited me on this wonderful adventure!