Over the course of three days, participants climbed 8848 metres, the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, and committed to become leaders in the fight to end injustice both locally and internationally.
We interviewed founders, Rem, Shawn, Judd, and Michael to dive deeper – rather, climb higher – into the mission of Freedom 8848 Everest Challenge.
Setting up Base Camp
As a group of adventurous, community-oriented, faith-inspired self-identified “trail nerds”, it comes as no surprise that these four men met at an event in the Rocky Mountains.
They became friends while participating in XCC: Extreme Character Challenge put on by 4th Musketeer Canada. It is "72 hours of adventure, challenge and inspiration during which teams of eight to ten men band together to face the rugged terrain in special locations to measure themselves and each other. Men embark on a life-changing journey, surrounded by stunning scenery, seeking the boundaries of their abilities and trying to overcome the deep abyss between head and heart."
The tough outdoor challenges started deeper conversations about principles and purpose. Michael shared that over the course of the training “[we began] dreaming and working towards a world where all men invest in the restoration of their communities, unity and peace within their families and bring hope and love to their workplace.” For Rem, XCC solidified the conviction that "if men are the cause of most of the injustice in the world, men need to engage in fighting that injustice. Good men need to stand up and fight.” This weekend marked the start of what would become Freedom 8848.
"I know that I need to stand firm in this, proclaiming freedom."
Climbing 8848 metres in three days appears an impossible and painful challenge - prompting the question: Why? This reaction is exactly what the founders were hoping for. For Judd, participating is about “being a voice for those who currently cannot speak up for themselves” and proving that injustice can be overcome. He continued, “I have shed tears as I have learned and reflected on many stories from my family and close friends who have been or known others close to them who have been exploited and trapped by this injustice. I know that I need to stand firm in this, proclaiming freedom.”
Shawn remarked, “[Doing something this hard] will give me the courage to talk about sex trafficking, something that [previously] was too awkward for me to bring myself to talk about.” Freedom 8848 is about individuals and networks becoming catalysts in the fight to end trafficking, through awareness, fundraising, community engagement, and supporting organizations like International Justice Mission Canada who walk with survivors. “We all need to work together to achieve the goal of eradicating human trafficking, and it’s much easier when we are united and holding each other up on the mission.”
Freedom 8848 goes beyond what most would think is possible. Michael stated, “I believe the sex trafficking industry can be abolished and its starts with sharing the truths with all who will listen. Most men and women we have engaged with in the last year had very similar reactions to the realities of the sex trafficking industry in Canada: 'I never knew!' which is very quickly followed by 'What can I do?' I believe we are helping with that question.”
Blazing new trails: 2021
Freedom 8848 will be taking place August 19-22, 2021, with opportunities to participate in-person or remotely. Registration for the event in Alberta will be capped at 30 participants, while the invitation to hike 8848 metres remotely will be capped at 100. Three tiers allow participants to join the challenge at varying fitness and fundraising levels. Training starts now!
When asked about his goals for this years’ event, Rem responded: "These individuals will hopefully become committed to climbing with us 365 days a year as we make battling injustice a daily way of life. Along the way, we will raise ever-increasing amounts of money and awareness as we support the fantastic men and women who have committed their lives to this fight in the front lines, where victims are rescued and restored in increasing numbers and vulnerable people are prevented from becoming victims in the first place."
"I hope... that they don’t only climb the equivalent of Everest: they move the equivalent of Everest."
What a view!
The team has plans to scale their 2020 pilot event into a national event by 2023-2024. In the next five years, Freedom 8848 aspires to be a global event, moving from being a singular event towards a yearlong movement of continuous giving and partnership.
Judd shared his vision: “I [hope] that while the world begins to join this climb, that they don’t only climb the equivalent of Everest: they move the equivalent of Everest. Laws are changed, mindsets are changed, hearts are transformed, people are healed, visions are fulfilled.
Where are your hiking boots?
Visit Freedom 8848 for more information.