There are plenty of ways to give back – from food drives all the way to climbing volcanoes. Rick Davidson, president & CEO, Century 21 Real Estate, is gearing up to make use of his leadership skills as he spearheads a five-man trek up Mt. Elbrus in Russia, one of the Seven Summits.
This will be Davidson’s third consecutive climb in an effort to raise funds for Easter Seals, having previously scaled volcanoes in Alaska and Mexico.
Below, Davidson gives us an exclusive interview and explains the similarity between succeeding in the business world and successfully scaling a mountain.
Zoe Eisenberg: How did you get into this extreme type of climbing?
Rick Davidson: I decided to get into shape when my son was born, 27 years ago. I made a commitment to myself then that my physical conditioning would never create an excuse to prohibit me from doing anything I might decide to do. I’ve been very active my whole life, but had never experienced mountain climbing, specifically alpine mountaineering, until 1999 – I was 39 years old.
My first climb was a trip called the “Volcano Tour.” It’s a climb in Mexico that takes on three volcanoes over a 10-day climb. This was the most physically grueling activity I had ever taken on.
When I reached the summit of the final mountain, El Pico D’Orizaba, it was truly a spiritual experience. I had a sense of accomplishment and a sense of self-pride and satisfaction that I had never experienced before. I knew from that moment on what the “call of the mountains” meant for me. There is no more inspiring place than a mountain summit at sunrise that you struggled mentally and physically to attain.
ZE: Why did you choose this particular mountain?
RD: Mt. Elbrus is a world-class mountain, at 18,500 feet in elevation and one of the Seven Summits, yet it can be climbed relatively quickly as compared to some of its counterparts around the world. It’s the perfect combination of a climb that is both challenging and one that can be accomplished in an acceptable time frame for a team with full-time jobs. Hopefully, the stature of the mountain also helps us to raise funds for our philanthropic partner, Easter Seals.
ZE: How much do your climbs typically raise for Easter Seals?
RD: No climb is typical. Each year, we work hard to get the word out about the climb in an attempt to raise as much as possible. We were fortunate with our two climbs in 2011 and 2012 to raise more than $88,000 combined for Easter Seals. This year, our goal is to generate $100,000 in funds for the organization. Every dollar raised goes directly to Easter Seals. The climbers are not subsidized for the costs of the climb; it is, in fact, their contribution to the fundraising activity.
ZE: Why is this cause so important to you?
RD: The CENTURY 21 System has been supporting Easter Seals for more than three decades. It’s really a part of our culture. Easter Seals is incredibly dedicated and effective in their mission to provide exceptional services, education, outreach and advocacy so people living with disabilities can live, learn, work and play in our communities. It’s thanks to their dedication that every year more than 1.8 million children, veterans and adults with disabilities are afforded opportunities to live to their fullest potential. In addition, our involvement with Easter Seals is a relationship builder for the entire CENTURY 21 system. The fundraising events and initiatives have provided for feelings of unity and camaraderie in communities around the country and throughout Canada.
ZE: Who is going with you?
RD: Rounding out the team on this adventure are Scott Becker of CENTURY 21 New Millennium, Natalia Aulenbather of CENTURY 21 Freedom Realty, Matt Cleaver, and Craig Van Hoy of GoTrek & Mountain Climbing Expeditions.
Scott and I have climbed together previously in Mexico and Alaska. Natalia is an experienced mountaineer and former guide. Craig is a mountain guide by trade. He is highly experienced and, in fact, has summited each of the Seven Summits.He has privately guided our previous teams up many of North America’s great mountains including Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, Mt. Hood, the Alaska Range, Orizaba and Ixta.
ZE: What is it like climbing with a 5-member team?
RD: Like any team sport, climbing together provides an opportunity to develop a close bond. Every member of the rope team must move in unison. One slow team member can impact the entire team and, as such, you must find a rhythm that works for everyone. There is a tremendous amount of camaraderie when climbing together and a satisfaction of working together as one to achieve the ultimate goal.