Combat wounded veterans will take on Kilimanjaro - WFLA News Channel 8

Combat wounded veterans will take on Kilimanjaro

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Participants in the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge, on the Daytime set at WFLA-TV Participants in the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge, on the Daytime set at WFLA-TV

The Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge, an effort designed to give vets therapeutic and extreme adventures, is sending a team from Tampa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

A group of eight wounded veterans along with eight support members is set to summit on January 27th. 

"It's about inspiration," prosthetist and team member Arlene Gillis explained. "They're inspiring one another. They're inspiring other folks," she said.

Former Army Sergeant Danny Swan, who lost a leg after a grenade attack in Afghanistan back in 2003, is part of the climbing team.  He says the challenge is a great motivator for wounded warriors who feel like they've lost everything.

"They're just sitting around, moping around, wondering what they're going to do if they're even going to be able to do anything with the rest of their life, and it gives them something to work for and get out of bed for," Swank said.

Billy Costello, 30, lost his leg to an IED in Afghanistan in 2011.  He'll make the Kilimanjaro climb to inspire others wounded on the front lines as well as his two young sons at home in North Carolina.

"We were always a very active family, always swimming or biking or doing something, so I had to let my kids know that... we could still do all those things," Costello said.

This month's summit isn't just about providing a much-needed morale boost to wounded  heroes. It's also about gathering data on the prosthetics they'll be pushing to the limits.

"We're gathering quantitative and qualitative data so that we can come back and create better fitting sockets and control the comfort of what they're going through," Gillis said.

The team leaves Tampa bound for Africa on Saturday, January 19th. 

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