Red Strider, Melonie Phillips is an inspiration. In January last year she decided to get up from her couch and start walking. She started with a walk around the block, then twice around the block and she now walks 10kms twice a week. She has done the Camino de Santiago walk in Europe and lost 14kgs to pick up 95kg in weights during her regular CrossFit sessions.
In ten days time she will take on Mount Kilimanjaro.
In all her endeavours, she raises funds for JAM South Africa. She pays for all of her adventures herself and any sponsorship money goes straight to JAM SA.
Her passion for feeding children is palpable. Her bright eyes water as she relates a story of children squabbling over chicken bones at a soccer match that her boss at The Best Funeral Society (TBFS), John Turnbull, witnessed.
“Walking and exercise has turned my whole life around,” she says. “Before, I always lived my life in fear. Fear of losing my job, fear of something happening to my daughters, fear about my old age… now I live for doing things out of my comfort zone. My bucket list would fill a book.”
She explains how raising funds for JAM has made her realise the joy and peace that comes with giving: “Because I lived in fear, I used to be very protective of my time and money. Since I opened myself up to raise funds for others and stop thinking about only feeding MY children, the gates have opened up and amazing things have happened. It has been a very spiritual experience for me.”
Admitting that she enjoys her creature comforts, she says that the thought of a line of hungry little faces at her bedside encourages her to get up and train and never to give up even when the going gets tough.
And tough is what her walk up “Kili” will be where it is not so much about the fitness but more about one’s ability to deal with the altitude. Her training has included walking with a special mask which simulates higher altitudes.
Melonie will be a long way from her feather bed and hot shower and she will also have to force herself to take things slowly, something that does not come naturally to her.
“I push myself very hard and I am going to have to resist doing that as one has to abide by the Kili mantra: “Pole, pole”(pronounced pole-ay pole-ay) which means slowly, slowly in Swahili.”
In order to do this Melonie has opted for the longer, but more scenic Lemosho route.
“I love nature and scenery. I take a picture of the sunrise every day because I just love it so much. I am going to take everything in and just wonder at all around me in the five days it takes to summit.”
Melonie is set to summit on her 51st birthday, 10 September. She looks forward to hoisting her flag which is being specially designed to feature the logos of her main sponsors: Renform, TBFS, Mocking Bull Holdings, Alberton CrossFit 2.0 and Net2Africa. It will also bear a spiritual message and, of course, a Red Bowl.
We wish her well for the trip and look forward to seeing where on earth she will go next!
We will be following Melonie’s progress, so keep an eye out on our platforms and support this remarkable woman.