As the youngest of ten siblings, Terry Herr grew up surrounded by folks always willing to share their opinions, advice and suggestions.
“I always had someone around to help me, and I know a lot of foster kids don’t have that,” Terry said. “I wanted to find a way to help foster kids the way my parents and family helped me.”
Terry has chosen a particularly rigorous path – in May 2018 Terry will travel to Nepal for a 25 day trek that will take him to Everest Base Camp and culminate in summit attempts of Kala Patthar (elevation 18,514 ft.) and Island Peak (elevation 20,305 ft.), two of the peaks that make up the Everest region of the Himalaya mountain range. He is using the trek as a way to raise $29,029 (representing the height of Mount Everest) in support of Children’s Home + Aid’s work with children in foster care.
“I was blessed to be raised in a loving family with parents who supported me every step of the way,” Terry said. “I wanted to do something to help kids who didn’t have that same advantage. I have been intrigued by Everest my whole life, and climbing Island Peak will allow me to experience the thrill of Everest, while raising funds for kids in foster care. “
Terry and his wife Carla first got involved with Children’s Home + Aid when Carla’s Women’s Group in Beverly held a luggage drive for kids in care.
“Many children in our foster care programs come to us with all of their belongings in a trash bag,” said Melissa Ludington, vice president of Foster Care Services at Children’s Home + Aid. “You can imagine how that impacts their self esteem during an already incredibly stressful time in their lives. Being able to provide a child with a suitcase in which they can carry their few precious items is a step on their way to healing. We are so grateful to Carla and Terry for arranging for the donation of hundreds of pieces of luggage that were used all over Illinois.”
The luggage drive resulted in over 700 pieces of luggage donated. Carla’s efforts won the 2015 “National Make a Difference Day” award and a $10,000 grant to Children’s Home + Aid.
Terry grew up in Pontiac, Illinois and was always interested in the outdoors. “I have climbed 7.5 percent of the peaks over 14,000 feet. Not bad for a guy who’s lived in Illinois his whole life!” said Terry. Still, this Himalayan climb will be a huge stretch for him, and he plans to use the kids in foster care for his inspiration.
“Climbing is 50 percent mental – you have to find reserves of determination and persistence to finish a climb when every part of you is screaming STOP!” said Terry. “I am going to be carrying the first names of all 1,200 kids in the Children’s Home + Aid foster care program with me as I climb, to inspire me when I am tempted to give up. If these kids can persevere through the challenges they are facing, I can finish this task and raise the funds that will help them succeed.“