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Chad Lewis, other NFL figures to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with wounded vets

Published: Thursday, May 5 2011 8:54 p.m. MDT

Lewis said the group will fly to Amsterdam, then on to Tanzania after Monday's meet-and-greet in New York. They'll start in the desert, walk through a rainforest into high mountain pines. When they finish, they'll have to wear winter gear, complete with goggles and low-temperature outfits to withstand below-freezing temps. It will be the most extreme climates found on earth in one week's time.

"I don't want to get there and not be prepared," he said.

Under Armour has provided Lewis with all his gear and outfits, from socks and shoes to underwear, long johns and coats.

Lewis will carry several banners with him. One will be a BYU football banner with signatures of every Cougar player and staff member. He'll also carry an NFL and Eagles banner, and he's accepted a gold banner from the LDS Church's Young Women's President Elaine Dalton.

"I'll be representing a lot of different people, and I'm proud to do it," said Lewis. "I'm proud to take the banners to the roof of Africa."

The 12 key hikers will be accompanied by 47 porters, who will carry their gear for them. One porter will carry a generator so an ESPN cameraman can keep his batteries charged and a laptop, and by satellite phone will chronicle every day online at a website Believeinheroes.org.

I told Lewis I had an old movie in my camping trailer about that mountain. It's called "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and stars Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward and is based on a novel by Ernest Hemmingway.

"Do you want to see the DVD?" I asked.

"Heck, yeah, I'd like to see what it's about," he said.

Don't know if it will help, being a Hollywood tale of Peck's character wondering if he'd lived life right and done all he could, an injured writer fighting for survival.

"Sometimes, thinking about it, I get nervous," admitted Lewis. "It's a really tall mountain."

But this is Lewis, an All-pro who played in a Super Bowl. Holmoe was right — this is a chance of a lifetime.

"It's your job," said Holmoe. "This is what you do."

Indeed, Lewis, a speaker and author, can use the anecdotes.

Just think, at a future time when Lewis is asking a wealthy guy for a donation and is met with excuses; if one of his teenage sons wants to quit a job or his Eagle Scout project; or if he sees a BYU tight end on the practice sidelines questioning his resolve, it is Lewis who can provide the ultimate refrain?

"You think that's tough? Well, I hiked Kilimanjaro. And did it with two guys — and each man had one leg."

Few I know can top that one.

Email: dharmon@desnews.com

Twitter: Harmonwrites

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