You Can Do Challenging Things

Sam’s Furniture is a committed supporter of our service members and aims to raise funds for Sheep Dog Impact Assistance while inspiring others to overcome obstacles and rise to any challenge they are facing. The Kilimanjaro Climb for a Cause was created to inspire individuals to face challenges and overcome them head-on. Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) is a national non-profit organization founded and headquartered in Rogers, Arkansas. SDIA exists to engage, assist and empower our nation’s “Sheep Dogs” (military veterans, law enforcement, fire & rescue, and EMS personnel) to reengage in living a meaningful and productive life with a renewed sense of purpose. Climbing to the summit of Kilimanjaro is mentally and physically challenging but can be life giving and a revolutionary experience for these men and women. 

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Benefiting:

Sam’s Furniture has a huge heart for giving back to the community, and to the men and women that serve our communities and country. We appreciate the key support Sam’s Furniture provides Sheep Dog Impact Assistance, and know they truly understand our mission to help combat veterans and first responders in need get off the couch and reengage in living an active, meaningful and productive life. We are honored by the opportunity to partner with them again and are thankful for their support in assisting our nation’s heroes.

Sheep Dog Impact Assistance

Our Why

Over the last couple of years that Joe and Larra have been involved with Sheepdog, they’ve seen men and women overcoming huge obstacles with what civilians would call “disadvantages”. Veterans are running marathons with two prosthetic legs, they are doing spartan races and triathlons with prosthetic legs and one arm. It has been a dream of Joe’s and an inspiration of Larra’s to do this climb and to do it alongside veterans brings their vision full circle. The couple would like to encourage everyone, regardless of their challenge, to take one step forward to overcoming it. We’ll see you at the peak.

 

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2023 Route

Reaching 19,342 ft in elevation, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, comprised of three dormant volcanic cones, and is classified as an extreme altitude mountain trek. The overall success rate for reaching the top of Kilimanjaro is 60%.

This year, the group will climb the Marangu, famously known as the “Coca-Cola Route,” the oldest path to the summit and the only route to offer dormitory-style accommodations. The 45-mile climb covers a diversity of terrain, including rainforest, moorland, and alpine desert, requiring climbers to adapt to conditions ranging from tropical to arctic throughout the 6-day hike from July 27 through August 1. This trek is sure to be thrilling, breathtaking, and immensely rewarding!

The route starts at Marangu Gate, where climbers will encounter dense rainforests alive with Colobus monkeys, colorful tropical birds, and coffee plantations on their way to Mandara. They will then pass through rolling alpine hills dotted with giant heather, lobelia, and groundsel plants on the way to Horombo before transitioning into alpine deserts as they near Kibo. The terrain turns into icy arctic tundra during the last leg as climbers approach Uhuru Peak, the “Roof of Africa,” before descending via Barafu Camp and Mweka on their way back to Marangu Gate.

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Meet The 2023 Climbers

Chelsea Fritog

Hendersonville, NC

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My name is Chelsea Fritog, I am a mother of 3 amazing boys, a wife, a PATHH guide, a student of life, an avid reader, seeker of adventures, and a creator of “things” such as resin tables, woodworking, and art in general. I joined the U.S. Army in 2008 as an avionic mechanic(15N) and was stationed at Fort Eustis VA. I decided to serve because I wanted to do something that would make a difference and that I could be proud of doing. I also wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and chose to serve in the Army specifically because he did.  Growing up I was told that I wouldn’t amount to anything and the messages I received were that I was unworthy of good things in my life. For a long time, I believed those things. When I went through the Warrior PATHH program in 2021, I finally understood that I am worthy of an amazing life. Since then, I have not stopped pursuing what I want in life no matter what challenges I face. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro represents more than just a climb to me. It represents another chance to push myself further than I thought possible, it represents resilience, courage, adventure, and strength. By climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I hope to inspire my children and the people I care about to see that they can climb life’s mountain no matter the difficulty if they never give up and know they are worthy of reaching the top. This climb for me will be life changing. Not only because it is something I only dreamed of doing and now get the chance to experience, but it will be a reminder that I am capable of accomplishing things I have dreamed of all my life and when I start to doubt myself and capabilities, I will look back and remember climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Steve Flemming

Katy, TX

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My name is Steve Flemming, a native Texan who joined the Navy in 2005. Currently serving in the Navy Reserve as a Master Chief Corpsman, I have spent operational and training time in many places around the world to include Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Ghana, and South Korea. During my service I have served in various Marine Corps commands, Naval Forces Korea, and Naval Medical Forces Support Command specifically in the Education and Training section. I was drawn to service talking with my Grandfather who retired from the Air Force and who was a Vietnam veteran of 2 tours, I felt there was something that everyone should contribute beyond themselves to something bigger. When I look at the challenge and opportunity of taking on Mount Kilimanjaro I think this is an opportunity to inspire those who are stuck in their lives and not able to take that next step. I also see this as something to help me personally show myself that in spite of a Cancer diagnosis I’m still able to dictate my life and not be commanded by it. Taking on Mount Kilimanjaro will help set the tone of what I hope to be the rest of my life in this new fight and after we summit will be able to share with other veterans and my family. My wife and daughters are the reason I want to work so hard in life, I find whatever opportunity I can to show them what we can do as a family, and how hard I’m willing to push for them.           

Jose Sanchez

San Antonio, TX

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Retired Staff Sargent Sanchez, Jose L. was born and raised in San Antonio, Tx. After Completing High School, he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps and underwent basic training in recruit depot San Diego, Ca.

Following basic training, Sanchez deployed overseas to Okinawa, Japan in 2004 as a Radio operator with 3/12 Artillery Bn. Upon completion of his tour Sanchez was reassigned to Camp Lejeune with 3/8 Infantry where then he was deployed to Iraq, Ramadi in the campaign of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon completion of O.I.F Sanchez was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal and promoted to Corporeal in theater. Sanchez was then reassigned to Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay Cuba in support of the global war on terror. Sanchez was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal and promoted to Sargent. Sanchez was then Reassigned to 4th Reconnaissance Bn, San Antonio Tx as an inspector instructor in support of reservist readiness and public relations. Sanchez was then reassigned to 1st ANGLICO Camp Pendleton CA, as a Radio Chief where he deployed to Afghanistan in the campaign of Operation Enduring Freedom. Assigned to support British and Afghanistan Alias, Sanchez sustained
injuries while conducting a ground patrol which he stepped on an Improvised Explosion Device leading to severe injuries including a limp salvaged right leg and a loss of his left leg below the knee. Sanchez was awarded the Combat Action medal and the purple heart medal.

In 2011, Sanchez was assigned to the wounded warrior battalion in San Antonio, Tx. During this time Sanchez was undergoing extensive surgeries and rehibition from injuries sustained in theater. Upon completion Sanchez was promoted to Staff Sargent and was successfully medically retired in July of 2013.

During 2013-2015 Sanchez, was in rehabilitation, learning how to walk with a left prosthetic leg and to regain a working compacity with his right limp salvaged leg. In 2015, Sanchez then started to bring awareness to those in need by sharing his story through social media. By sharing his trial and tribulations through words, text and videos of inspiration and motivation despite his physical and mental challenges. Sanchez went on to complete six marathons to include the Boston, New York and Marine Corps Marathon in efforts to inspire the world and carry out the spirit of the Marine Corps.

In 2018, Sanchez felt compelled to help his community even further. Sanchez Started donating his time and resources to conduct mentorship through fitness in Woodlawn Park in San Antonio Texas. Sanchez vison was to instill mental fortitude into other through movement and sharing life experiences for others to emulate what he had found through his own struggles.

In 2019, Sanchez successfully, gained a 501(c)(3) for his vison and named it Rise Above Hardship where he opened a gym to help more individuals one on one. Sanchez currently resides in San Antonio Texas, running his nonprofit with two daughters.

Matt Lutz

Indiana

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Hello! My name is Matt Lutz. I am originally from Southern Indiana. I served with Navy EOD for six years. I deployed to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan in 2011 into 2012. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, and engaging with nature after the military provided the space that allowed me to overcome the issues I carried back from overseas. I wanted to get involved with Sheep Dog to help provide that space to my fellow veterans. I love pushing myself to extremes and that drives my desire to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I find that pushing myself helps me better understand my true self, and I hope this climb provides me with more insights. 

Mike Miller

Stockton, CA

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My name is Michael Miller and my friends and family call me Mike.  I was born and raised in Stockton, California.  At the age of 18, I left home for a lengthy tour in our United States Marine Corps. I retired on October 1, 2020, after 30 years of service to our country and Corps as a Sergeant Major. I grew up in the infantry and served at many duty stations here CONUS and OCONUS, the highlights that include San Diego, Naval Weapons Station, Concord, California, Camp Pendleton, California, 29 Palms, California, Okinawa, Japan, Somalia, Iraq X2, Afghanistan X2, and New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve served multiple tours as an instructor to include: Squad Leaders Course, Platoon Sergeants Course, Marine Combat Training Instructor Course, the Advanced SNCO Academy, Drill Instructor, and Senior Drill Instructor.  I’ve also served Sergeant Major tours in the Ground, Logistics, and Air Combat Elements that culminated serving as the 4th Marine Division Sergeant Major.  

I joined the Marine Corps because I wasn’t ready for college and to continue a family legacy of military service. I want to be mentally and physically challenged with a group of like-minded individuals as we ascend one of the highest mountains in the world.  The sense of camaraderie, cohesion and accomplishment would be an incredible feeling that would last with me for the rest of my days on earth and I would be able to share this feat with my grandchildren one day. To conquer this climb would allow me to prove that age is only a number and proper preparations matters more now than ever. 

Something unique about me is that when I was 24 years old, I ran a three-mile run in 16 minutes, 42 seconds. I also have some dancing and fighting skills because of how I was raised.

Kevin Lemmon

Atlanta, TX

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I am Kevin Lemmon from Atlanta, Texas.

I served in the Marine Corps from 1988-1994 and deployed for Desert Shield/Storm.

I always wanted to be a Marine and to serve my country.

I’m climbing to support my fellow veterans and hopefully inspire others to get out of their comfort zones and get off the couch.

I have been married to my wife, Tisha, for 35 years. We have three grown sons, two of which are also Marines, and 3 grandchildren.

Lance Nutt

Rogers, AR

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About:

Lance Nutt served 30 years in the Marine Corps. He has three beautiful children, Katie, Connor, and McKenna. Lance Nutt is the president and founder of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.

Accomplishments:

Besides his children, Lance is most proud of his 30 years of service in the Corps, and the opportunity to lead and serve with some of the best men and women on this planet, United States Marines and sailors. It was his greatest honor. He received multiple commendation medals and awards, several from three combat tours in Iraq.

Why:

Climbing Kilimanjaro gives Lance Nutt the opportunity to inspire fellow Sheep Dogs (veterans and first responders) to get off the couch. It is what drives him most in life. Climbing with fellow veterans like Scott West gives him the motivation to succeed, for him, and for so many others that might be inspired to do more through witnessing Scott’s journey.

Jonathan Moll

Rogers, AR

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Jonathan was born in Little Rock and spent his childhood running around the Ouachita Mountains of Central Arkansas.  After graduating high school with honors, he attended to the University of Arkansas until the events of 9/11 changed his course.  

Jonathan joined the United States Marine Corps in 2003 just before Operation Iraqi Freedom began and earned a meritorious promotion in boot camp, before completing School of Infantry and joining his unit.  Twice deployed to Al Anbar province, Jonathan spent 16 months in and around Falluja in 2004 and 2006-2007. He was honorably discharged in 2009 as a Corporal, having received multiple awards during his time in the Marines.

In 2018, after almost 2 decades in the construction, environmental, and furniture industries, Jonathan joined his brothers in starting Executive Flooring Solutions.  A huge responsibility in his role as Vice President of Business Development is to expand the scope and influence of Executive Flooring Solutions and push the culture into the future.  This includes being boots on the ground and designing, building, installing, and anything else that needs to be accomplished, following the Marine Corps ethos of leading from the front.

Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter

Cheyenne, WY

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Hello, my name is Stephen Carter. I am from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

I served in the Army as an infantryman with the 101st from 2007-2011. I served in the Army to support and defend my family, country, and the values that I believe to be important. Being an infantryman was something my grandfather did in WW2, and I wanted to serve in the same position as him.

I have a huge passion for climbing and mountaineering. This passion coincides with climbing Kilimanjaro, one of the famous seven summits. My intention in climbing Kilimanjaro is to gain a higher sense of pride and self-accomplishment. I am also looking forward to supporting Travis, a trainer and mentor that I have the highest respect and admiration for

I believe this experience will change my life in a positive way because I will be returning with a new perspective of myself, I will return lighter in spirit and with a great sense of compassion for others. I will return to my family with the message if “no matter what, you can accomplish your goals”

Something unique to me is I enjoy ice baths and training my dogs. Seeing people not allow barriers to stand in their way is what inspires me.

Josh Smartt

Etowah, NC

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Josh Smartt -Bio

USMC Veteran Josh SMARTT           

 

Josh was born February 14, 1973, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is the oldest of four children. Josh moved into Western North Carolina at the age of 15 where he attended West Henderson High School. Halfway through his senior year Josh moved to Vincent,  Al where his parents lived so he could have a guardian sign for him to join the United States Marine Corps.

Josh had always had a strong desire to serve in the United’s States military. The desire to serve his country led him to join the United States Marine Corps during his senior year and upon graduating high school left for Parris Island, SC for Boot Camp. Josh graduated from the 1st RTB in October and went to Camp Geiger for infantry training.

Josh’s first permanent duty station was with Marine Barracks in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After leaving GITMO Josh was sent to MCB Camp Lejeune NC. Josh completed his  service with the USMC in July of 1997.

After leaving the USMC and recently divorced, Josh found himself struggling to adjust to civilian life and maintain a relationship with his son. Employers were not tolerant to someone wanting to have every other weekend off to spend with their son so Josh decided to work for himself and has ever since.

Josh is proudly married to Pam, a father to Gatlin(Stephanie) and Haygan Smartt, Step Father to Justin(Ana) and Benton(Lauren) Blaine. Josh is also blessed to be a grandfather to 3 amazing grandchildren.

Josh now sits on the Board of Directors for Sheep Dog Impact Assistance. Josh is a founding member and former Commander of the Western North Carolina SDIA Chapter.  Josh is not only proud the to a Sheep Dog but thankful for the opportunity for continued service to our Nation’s Heroes.

He wants to climb Kilimanjaro not only to challenge himself but hopefully discover something new about himself as well. He feels that climbing Kilimanjaro with SDIA will help him get to the next level in his personal life. He feels that he has allowed his past traumas to hold him back in many ways. He plans on taking them to the summit and leaving them there. He is inspired by others’ success and feels accomplished when he is a part of it. He is excited to climb this mountain not only for his personal accomplishment but also to be able to help his fellow Sheep Dogs achieve this feat.

 

 

We took a similar climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2021. 

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Larra Donaldson