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Princeton veteran makes the climb up Mount Kilimanjaro

Published: Aug. 15, 2021 at 7:57 PM CDT
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PRINCETON, Ind. (WFIE) - After seven days and over 19,000 feet, a local veteran is back home.

Chris Mackay, a 42-year-old veteran and Princeton resident, took on an adventure of a lifetime with a group of veterans supported by a non-profit, called Sheepdog Impact Assistance, climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.

“Their motto is to get off the couch,” Jennifer MacKay, Chris’ wife said. “So like when veterans, first responders, sometimes they retire or get injured. So the idea is to get them off the couch and reengage them into society and active living.”

“I’d say he’s a very adventurous person, he likes that kind of stuff,” Jennifer said. “He can thrive in that environment. Much like many combat veterans, he’s the type, where every day-to-day stuff, he might fall apart. But in an emergency, he is cool as a cucumber. That’s how he is, that’s who you want, probably want a combat veteran around.”

Chris served in the U.S. Army infantry for about a decade.

Jennifer says the military was his passion, but after a traumatic accident, he now suffers from chronic pain in his back, as well as dealt with a brain injury for years and PTSD.

Some of the other veterans in the group made their way up the mountain with no arms or legs.

“A few people, the physical demand is a lot,” the group said during a FaceTime call. “Being on the trail that long, feet on the ground, it impacts your body in a big way, especially like someone like Travis here. He did the trail, three days on his hands.”

So for Chris and his fellow veterans, this was a mission much bigger than many will ever understand.

“I’m just extra proud of him,” Jennifer said. “He’s a special person.”

“At the end of the day, it’s finding that purpose,” the group said. “And with Sheepdog, they brought us all together to find that purpose, to come together as a team and climb something that’s bigger than all of us.”

Chris arrived back home safely on Sunday evening.

Click here to learn more about Sheepdog Impact Assistance.

For those interested in donating to the non-profit, click here.

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