Nikolai Valdmanis never expected that he would have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others, or inspire his friends and family until he visited the Kithoka Amani Community Home (KACH) in Kenya back in 2010. In the wake of a departure from his professional career, he dreamed of world travels and the personal challenge of hiking the 2,181 mile Appalachian Trail. His close friendships with Dylan Bowman and Erik Wardell shifted his leisure safari tours in East Africa into something entirely different than the endangered big game he had traveled around the world to see.
Nikolai decided to diversify his African adventure with a visit to KACH. The tangible impacts that Nikolai saw AI making in the lives of the children at KACH and the lives of other members in the community were so inspiring to him that he chose to dedicate his upcoming Appalachian Trail hike to raising money for AI. With pledges and contributions on the front end, Nikolai disappeared with his 30 pound pack into the woods of northern Georgia on March 28th and endured five months of pain, hunger, discomfort, temperature extremes, dehydration and solitude in order to benefit the children he had befriended at KACH. When it was all said and done, with the entire Appalachian Trail behind him, Nikolai had managed to raise over $1,200 for AI and the continuation of our work abroad.
Having recently moved back to Aspen, CO he hopes to continue his involvement and credits AI with being an organization that is... "original, passionate, selfless and overflowing with integrity." We couldn't be happier to see people like Nikolai stepping engaging in their world and we look forward to watching him further his involvement with AI in the near future. Thanks Nikolai!