Fountain pastor goes to extreme heights to support orphans
Last updated 8/31/2022 at 9:24am | View PDF
It's easy to ask people for money to support a good cause, but why not climb a whole bunch of 14,000-foot mountains in a short amount of time to make it more interesting?
Michael Haley, lead pastor at Cross Creek Church in Fountain, recently did just that. He joined with a handful of other men to complete The Manna 14er Challenge to raise money for Manna Worldwide.
The group set out on a quest to hike 14 peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation over an 11-day period. Nine of these days would be spent hiking, with two rest days sprinkled in for time to rest and recuperate. Sponsors signed up to pledge money for their various milestones.
"The goal was to raise $100,000 for two Manna projects," Haley said. "The two projects are a brand-new orphanage in the Philippines, as well as backpack programs for kids here in the state. The backpack programs provide food for kids in order for them to eat over the weekend."
The campaign has raised a little over $90,000 so far. People can help participants reach their goal by going to www.mannaworldwide.com/14.
Haley is no stranger to mountaintops.
"I had hiked 12 14ers before this trip: 11 here in Colorado, and 1 in California," he said. "I'm now up to 25 14ers, since three of the 16 we did for this challenge were repeats for me."
The trip had its share of meaningful, difficult and also fun moments.
"The funnest and most challenging hike was Sawtooth ridge, which connects Bierstadt and Evans," Haley said. "Bierstadt is one of the easiest and most hiked 14ers, which is why we passed 157 people on the way up. We went off the backside and over Sawtooth Ridge in order to also climb up Mt. Evans. The traverse led us through a lot of muddy marsh which made for an interesting trip down, but was capped off by a trip to Beau Jo's."
The group met a lot of people on the different mountains who were excited to hear about the 14er challenge. Many of them also got online and made donations to the cause, Haley said. And even way up there, they realized what a small world it really is.
"One of the guys from our trio met an older gentleman on the trail," Haley explained. "They talked a little and realized the older guy knew and went to church with his grandpa in Louisiana years ago."
Haley's twin brother, Jon (who serves as a pastor in Texas), was along for the memorable trip. Hiking Yale together on their 49th birthday was a highlight for them.
About Manna Worldwide: Manna has nutrition centers in 41 different countries. Their mission is to rescue children from the grip of poverty. They do this by providing food, literacy centers, and orphanages. All of these ministries are paired with a church planting missionary, so they can meet their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.