A different kind of organization

By BRANDEN CAMP

Cheryl climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Photo by Tim Glover.
Cheryl climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro. Photo by Tim Glover.

Along with Wolfinger, 23 people had bought plane tickets, raised funding, completed the training, and dramatically changed their lives for an organization and now the only thing left was to summit.

In that tent, it had finally set in that the next day, a team of volunteers would attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, and it was all because she had a small idea that inspired her.

International Sports Federation is a missions organization that exists to mobilize volunteers to reach people around the world with the gospel of Jesus through the universal medium of sports.

Cancer Free
Six months after she was cancer free, Cheryl Wolfinger, CEO of International Sports Federation, was told that the cancer had destroyed over 25 percent of her lung function. The doctor told her she would never see One hundred percent lung function ever again.

Last year, Wolfinger approached her doctor about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and was told she could not be cleared with the current condition of her lungs.  She asked the doctor to let her train for a year and test her lung function again.

Fast forward one year later, Wolfinger went in for a check up on her lung function.  The doctor was shocked when she returned with the results. One hundred percent lung function; something the doctor had never seen from a cancer patient who usually maxes out at around 65 percent lung function on a good day.

Up is the only way from here 

It was clear Wolfinger was created to push people to do extraordinary things having walked hard paths throughout her own life. “People are just waiting to be inspired,” said Wolfinger.

With this kind of exciting responsibility that only few hold, comes some guilt. Wolfinger recalls thinking to herself, “You need to own your own uniqueness.”  She believes that her purpose in life came from a higher calling from God.

Claiming her purpose in life, she announced a crazy idea to climb to an altitude of 19,431 to raise awareness about International Sports Federation and the next thing you know, 23 volunteers raised their hands and volunteered a year of their life to accomplish a huge task.

Jen Zila, a volunteer who spent several weeks in Kenya on a medical trip for International Sports Federation said, “I think I can speak for many of the team members when I say that although we were going to serve others, it was us who were affected the greatest.”

In the end, 21 of 24 climbers summited Mt. Kilimanjaro.  The group raised $45,000 for International Sports Federation as a result of the climbing.

The organization has mobilized over 9,000 volunteers in over 160 countries around the world and is planning their next fundraiser: riding bicycles across America.

The bike ride challenge

Volunteers pose for a photo while holding their bikes. Photo by ISF.
Volunteers pose for a photo while holding their bikes. Photo by ISF.

It’s normal to see a group of teenagers standing on the corner of an intersection holding up signs asking to wash your car for a donation or a college organization selling baked goods for a buck.

Cheryl Wolfinger, CEO of International Sports Federation, has a different approach to raising money and awareness for her organization.

After a team of ISF volunteers summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Wolfinger through many encounters with friends saw her next challenge; a ride across America to raise money and awareness for International Sports Federation.

International Sports Federation gives people the opportunity to travel and share their faith with those in different cultures.

Past volunteer Jennifer Zila said, “It not only serves dozens of international communities each year, but also allows the team members exposure to new cultures and an expanded worldview.”

Immediately upon returning from Tanzania to her home in Acworth, Ga., Wolfinger had her doctor help her carry in her baggage and he noticed a bike. He suggested Wolfinger ride across America to raise money and awareness for International Sports Federation.

Feet still bloody and soar from the climbing, she made it clear that planning the next big idea was not high on her list.

She began to lose sleep over the thought of not pursuing such a huge challenge. She loved cycling.

“I’m not built to run, I am not built to swim, but I’m built to hammer on bike,” said Wolfinger.

After Wolfinger realized that this is the next big challenge she needed to bring to her organization, she began to think about what they would need to be successful.

Wolfinger prayed about International Sports Federation’s needs and she knew they would need an RV to travel in. Within a few days, some random person on Facebook contacted her. This person donated an RV to International Sports Federation, to use in anyway they wished.

Wolfinger had her answer. It was clear that she was headed in the right direction.

The ride across America is planned to start on Sept. 1, 2015. The team will start in San Diego and plan to ride 3100 miles across the nation.

 

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