Smithsburg man plans to “climb” Mount Everest, raise funds for student homelessness

Maryland

Sean de Luna is set to board his bike and repeatedly cycle up a hill until he accumulates 8,848 meters or the height of Mount Everest

SMITHSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — One man is one a mission to climb the highest mountain in the world–while never leaving the state of Maryland. 

In between lunch time and family time with his wife and two kids, Sean de Luna spends hours atop a modified stationary bike training to climb Mount Everest in a unique way called “everesting.”

“You have the height of Everest which is 8,848 meters. You have to climb [a] mountain until you total the elevation of Everest, which is 2,929 ft.”

And de Luna is “climbing” the mountain on a bike. 

He had been preparing to ride the height of Everest in the Maryland Endurance Challenge scheduled in May. The event brings in cyclists from around the world and their participation benefits the Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership, or SHIP, of Frederick County. 

“Maryland Endurance Challenge is the largest fundraiser for SHIP annually,” explained executive director of SHIP, Ed Hinde, “This would have been our fourth year, it would have been held actually this weekend, had we not had COVID-19.”

The event raises $30,000 to $35,0000 for the non-profit to aid students experiencing homelessness. This funding is used to purchase essential items like personal hygiene products and food. 

During the 2018-2019 school year, the number of Frederick County public school students without a stable home totaled 853. 

“This year we were about 20 percent up before the virus hit,” Hinde explained,  “We suspect by the end of the school year this year, which ends on June 17, we will see over 1,000 youth in our schools that are homeless.”

For de Luna, the mission to raise this essential funding is a bit more personal. He formally taught ninth grade social studies to students in Houston, Texas. He says 98 percent of his students were Latino and from low-income households. 

“It really shaped how I approach equity, education,” De Luna explained, “Now I work for Teach for America. I see the problem and it’s persistent and it’s real. I felt I was in a position to maybe help a little bit, so I said ‘Let’s just try this.’ 

De Luna began a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $1,000 for SHIP. As of Thursday afternoon, 56 donors have raise $2,758. 

And de Luna is still preparing to ride.

On Saturday, he plans to begin a 24-hour inclined ride to reach the elevation of Everest through repeated climbs of a 1-mile hill. Several community members have signed up to be there on the side of the roadway and support him. 

“The power of the community and how it supports each other and serves each other, that’s reflected in how they are supporting me on the mountain,” de Luna said, “I feel like that’s an embodiment of how they also want to support those who are in need in the community.”

For more information on the GoFundMe page and de Luna’s “everesting” challenge, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/ClimbForStudents?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet

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