Texas Second Grader Becomes Youngest Girl in History to Summit Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro
And she did it in memory of her dad.
"The higher I go, the closer I am to him in heaven," seven-year-old Montannah Kenney told the Austin-American Statesman.
On March 10th, the second-grader from Austin, Texas set out to climb Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. She did it in memory of her father, who died a week after her third birthday following a battle with PTSD.
Montannah made the trek alongside her mother, former professional triathlete Hollie Kenney, who also serves as her coach. And on March 16th, she became the youngest girl in history to reach the infamous 19,341-foot summit.
According to ABC News, Montannah asked to join her mother's Kilimanjaro journey after hearing her discuss it with friends.
"I didn't discount what she said but I knew she didn't know the magnitude so we started researching it and looking at videos," Kenney recalled. "I was very real with her, explaining that people can get very sick, that we'd have to train very hard and it wouldn't be an easy task."
Montannah, however, was undeterred.
"When we talked about the mountain being above the clouds, she immediately associated that with heaven and it resonated with her," Kenney told the network. "She loved that idea of being closer to her dad and asked me if she was going to be able to see him."
An estimated 25,000 people set out to climb Kilimanjaro each year; and only two-thirds make it to the top, the Statesman reports. Park rules require that climbers be 10 years old, but Montannah was able to obtain a special permit.
"She never, ever questioned what she was doing," Kenney told ABC. "Every day I asked Montannah if this was harder or easier than she thought it would be, and every day she answered, 'Easier.'"
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When she returned to River Ridge Elementary School, Montannah had a spring break souvenir nobody else in her class did: a world record.
"This was really a cool thing for her and it's kind of setting her up in life for some pretty amazing things," Kenney told Fox News. "To be able to provide the ability for Montannah to follow a dream that she wants to do, there's no price tag."