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9 & 11 Year Old American Girls Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa With She Climbs

TANZANIA, AFRICA -- (Marketwired) -- 02/04/14 -- Helen Simons "HS" Berenyi, 9 year old Silverton, CO resident and Alexis "Lexi" Peats of Perrysburg, OH summited Mt. Kilimanjaro on January 10th, 2014 at 10:08 am, Tanzanian time. HS and Lexi were 2 of 4 climbers who successfully summited with She Climbs, a non-profit organization whose mission is to build and strengthen the self-esteem of female individuals of all ages, one mountain climb at a time. This is both girls' first time climbing and living on a mountain for 7 days. Lexi Peats said shortly after the summit, "I learned that if I try hard enough, I can do anything!"

While fact checking is still underway, it appears that the girls are the youngest in their respective home states of CO and OH to ever summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak on the African continent, topping out at 5895 meters or 19,340 feet above sea level. Berenyi may be the youngest American female to summit the mountain, one of the famous "Seven Summits" of the world.

Both girls climbed with their mothers, Suzanne Peats and Cokie Berenyi both of Perrysburg and Silverton, respectively.

"These two are amongst the youngest kids in my 371 summits of Kilimanjaro," said Lead Climbing Guide, "Raj" Rajabu Hasan of KCB, a local Tanzanian climbing outfitter. "They were strong from the first day to the last day, with no signs of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). The girls made it to the summit in 7 1/2 hours. Some of my climbers have taken 12 hours in the past," said Hasan.

Dubbed the "Binti Group" by Hasan, (Binti in Swahili means daughter), the girls are amongst She Climbs' first organized trip. "As we launch She Climbs it only seemed natural that we form mother-daughter teams from my personal sphere of climbers that I have previously climbed with," said Cokie Berenyi, founder of She Climbs and investment firm, Despite this being She Climbs' first trip, the organization and mission have been evolving since 2006 shortly after Berenyi gave birth to her second daughter. "As a new mother of 2 girls I was terrified of all that could go wrong with raising girls. It was very clear to me that the key to successfully raising them was to do everything I could to build their self-esteem and confidence -- this was when the idea of She Climbs was born."

Cokie first summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2010, which served as She Climbs research effort.

"Reaching summits of this altitude require great focus, determination and persistence and the personal satisfaction of reaching the top is intoxicating and motivating. It is a great environment to test your mental and physical limits and grow your confidence, all of which can be a powerful tool in navigating life. Climbing is an excellent venue to achieve the goals of She Climbs," comments Suzanne Peats or "Mama Lexi" to the Trip Guides and Tanzanian support team.

Mandy Ramsden, Johannesburg, South Africa resident, helped in organizing the successful Kilimanjaro summit trip. Ramsden is South Africa's first woman to summit the "7 Summits" of the world and serves on She Climbs' Advisory Board. "I really believe that Kili, its hardships, its beauty and its summit were hugely empowering to enable me to make the changes I needed to make to live the life I wanted to live. It is a real privilege to pass that empowerment on to other women and girls," said Ramsden.

Sheldon Kerr, a Colorado resident, and professional mountain guide who actively guides on Kilimanjaro, Denali and in the Cascades also assisted in the trip's organization. Kerr also serves on She Climbs' Board. "I knew the girls could do it. The key was whether or not they wanted the summit bad enough. Clearly they did!" Kerr said.

For more about She Climbs' program and mission, visit or call 843-670-2622.

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