WHO: Seven-year-old Austinite Montannah Kenney (along with her mom, triathlete Hollie Kenney).
WHAT: The pair climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in March, making Kenney the youngest girl to ever reach the top of Africa’s tallest mountain.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: When she was three years old, Montannah Kenney lost her father. To pay tribute to him, she and her mom, Hollie, decided to accomplish something they knew would make him proud: Ascend 19,341 feet to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro over the course of six and a half days. The pair had initially planned to do so in 2019, since park regulations required climbers to be ten years old. But when they learned that an eight-year-old girl did it last July after receiving a special permit, they sped up their timetable so Kenney could do more than just reach the top: at 2,865 days old, she would be the youngest girl to ever climb the mountain.
“I wanted to be closer with my dad,” she told CBS News. “I wanted to do fun adventures with my mom and learn about Mount Kilimanjaro.” Now the pair are using the publicity from the climb to honor her father in another way: They’ve launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for veterans suffering from PTSD, which Montannah’s father had, in order to fund EMDR therapy, a treatment for those recovering from trauma.
Kenney set a world record, although it’s worth noting that the youngest person of any gender to climb the mountain, a seven-year-old named Cash Callahan, was 41 days younger than Kenney upon summiting earlier this year. Both records are likely to be broken at some point—with two new records being set for the youngest people to climb the mountain in the first few months of 2018, it seems an inevitability. But that’s the thing about climbing mountains: Once you’ve done it, nobody can take the accomplishment away from you, and Montannah Kenney has a lifetime to be proud of what she did.