Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Business Executives Reach New Heights to Raise Money for the Tulsa Zoo

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Business Executives Reach New Heights to Raise Money for the Tulsa Zoo

Article excerpt

When Matt Yeager was asked to help raise money for the Tulsa Zoo, he said he would do whatever it took. But he didn't anticipate it would involve climbing the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

"That taught me a harsh lesson before opening my mouth," said Yeager, vice president of operations for NorthStar Technologies, with a laugh.

One Wild Challenge is a fundraising event supporting the Tulsa Zoo and challenges business executives to climb to new heights.

"Everyone does walks and that type of thing," Yeager said. "But to get a group of business leaders from Tulsa to climb a mountain, well that's thinking outside the box."

The challenge lasts several days, which includes two days of travel, one day of mountaineer training and two full days of climbing. Executives attempt to reach the summit of different mountains in the country.

While the challenge is open to the public, it's mainly business executives who have participated, Yeager said.

The idea for business leaders to climb mountains came in 2006, said Phil Lakin, chief executive of the Tulsa Community Foundation.

Lakin and Tulsa Zoo executive director Keegan Young are avid mountain climbers. When they started discussing ideas about ways to raise money for the zoo, climbing a mountain became a unique option, Lakin said.

"So many people are tired of the typical old dinner with mostly the same people," he said. "But to be part of the climbing fundraiser event provides a great deal of diversity."

In order to participate, each potential climber must raise $5,000. For the first year, the organization had six participants climb Mount Rainier in Washington.

Each year the program continues to grow with more climbers joining. Climbing these mountains is indeed a challenge, Lakin said. The group undergoes plenty of training prior to heading out to the climb.

"These are not mountains you walk, you don't just get on a trail and hike," he said. "It's a significant mental challenge that requires 100-percent attention."

Yeager used to have a fear of heights, but when he climbed Grand Tetons, his fear was eliminated. He said the first part of the climb wasn't too bad because it was more like a hike. …

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