Jermaine Middleton is an anomaly. The 30-year-old Atlanta-based businessman has always dared to be different. Right now, he’s on day two of a six day trek to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Then, in just a few weeks, he’ll attempt to do it all over again by climbing the nearly 23,000 foot Mount Aconcagua in Argentina.
Both of these expeditions, which are a part of the Seven Summits, are the highest peaks on their respective continents, and are all a part of his rigorous training and really practice runs for the real deal climb next year. The climb that’s could possibly put this adventure seeker’s name into the record books.
Middleton is preparing to climb to the 29,029 foot peak of Mount Everest in May 2019, but unlike other daredevils who have gotten to the top, he will be the first American-born Black man to do so.
On a mission to make the world a better place, Middleton (a triathlete, semiprofessional motorcycle racer, and scuba diver) pushes past what normal people might consider hindrances by keeping his eyes on the prize.
In an effort to do just that, he holds a lot of stock on his faith, which is evidenced in his brand, Summit 413. The “413” is from one of Middleton’s favorite Bible verses — Philippians 4:13, which says, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
For the past several months, Middleton has been reaching out to friends and family for donations and athletic powerhouses for sponsorships. Once he raises the funding to cover his Mount Everest climb, the rest of the money will go to three Atlanta-based charities—Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta Dream Center, and Four Corners Group, Inc.
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What does it take to get your mind and body ready for this type of challenge? TheGrio spoke with Middleton before he left for this six-day Kilimanjaro climb to find out how everything from his faith to his diet has to be taken into account before he sets one foot towards slaying the mountain.
TheGrio: What makes your road to Mount Everest so special?
Jermaine Middleton: It’s a faith-based journey. I’m looking for opportunities to share my faith along this journey, which is a constant part of what this has been since day 1. Just having the Summit 413 T-shirts and hearing people say, ‘Where does the 413 come from?’ It’s my opportunity to share what this is all about and I’m looking forward to that.
TheGrio: What are you most looking forward to about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?
Jermaine Middleton: I’ve traveled all over the world, but I’ve never been to any country in Africa, so I’m really excited about going.
TheGrio: Is there anything you’re going to miss while you’re away?
Jermaine Middleton: I do a lot of solo traveling, which is fun, but sometimes the most beautiful things that I’ve seen in life, I’ve oftentimes seen by myself. You want to show that stuff to your close friends and your loved ones, but there’s not really an adequate way of doing that. Photographs and video just don’t do many things justice, especially when you’re talking in terms of mountains and trying to capture the scale of something that’s as massive as Kilimanjaro. Honestly, I just wish I could take them all with me so they can experience it too.
TheGrio: What kind of workout and diet did you do to prepare for this?
Jermaine Middleton: My training is the same for all the mountains. I’m doing a lot of cardio like the StairMastercycling. It’s a lot of work. You’re moving a lot each day because you’re getting ready to climb for a week straight., swimming, and
As for my diet, that changes daily. The biggest thing for me is just consuming a lot of water and staying hydrated while I’m training. I’m trying to avoid sugar so that means not consuming as many chocolate chip cookies as I normally do. I eat what I have to eat to sustain myself for my training. I might wake up in the morning, eat some scrambled eggs and toast and then maybe rice and chicken for lunch.
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TheGrio: With each climb you take, you become more and more of a role model. Is that a heavy burden?
Jermaine Middleton: It’s actually more of a privilege than anything else. I’m excited about the opportunity to represent something positive in the world, especially in the Black community. I’m modeling a positive way to be different than what people are accustom to.
TheGrio: What is the hardest thing about making this journey?
Jermaine Middleton: The toughest thing is trying to manage and balance all of the different pieces that go into making a climb like this. I’m trying to squeeze in a normal workout routine, trying to fundraise, raise awareness, do my job well, maintain friendships, plan these trips — all of the logistics and stuff that goes into it; it’s tough to do by yourself.
TheGrio: How is the fundraising coming along?
Jermaine Middleton: That’s actually been one of the things that has become somewhat disappointing—people not supporting or being as inspired to support as I thought they would. A lot of people have said they are inspired by what I’m doing, but for me, this is a call to action. I want people to be led to donate to the causes that I’m trying to support.
TheGrio: Is failure even an option for you?
Jermaine Middleton: If I learn something on Mount Kilimanjaro through failure that prepares me to climb Everest, then that won’t be a failure. Now, if I get to Everest and I fail to climb that, but I’m still successful at raising money for the charities, then I’ll consider that a success as well. It won’t be a failure.
TheGrio: What do you want people to take away from your determination?
Jermaine Middleton: I want people to chase their dreams and try to do the things that they fear the most. People should live life intentionally and inspire or motivate others by the things they do. We should all be trying to make the world a better place.