South Kona resident Dusty Boyd will climb three of the world’s tallest mountains — combined some 79,816 feet — to fund a facility that will provide area keiki room to play, learn and study.
Boyd, who departed Kailua-Kona on Tuesday night, will fast-ascend without supplemental oxygen first the 22,841-foot-tall Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, followed by the 27,940-foot-tall Mount Lohtse and finally the 29,035-foot-tall Mount Everest, both located in the Himalaya Mountains that sprawl east-to-west between Afghanistan to Myanmar, also known as Burma.
He’s expecting to spend up to three weeks in Argentina before heading to Everest and Lohtse, both of which he will attempt to climb in a single day and night. A normal ascent of Everest, using oxygen, takes about four weeks, Boyd said.
Mount Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere; Lohtse is the fourth tallest mountain on Earth; and Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, according to NASA.
Boyd is taking on the feats all in an effort to support the keiki who call home the same South Kona area where he resides. The ascents, which include paying clients he is guiding, help raise funding for nonprofit Lifechangers to bring to reality an athletic training center and field that will also focus on the importance of studies to the Hookena area. He hopes the center will provide an outlet for keiki to foster hope and pursue a better future for themselves.
“In South Kona, there really isn’t anything to do so there is very little hope for the children,” he said. “With the field, the kids will now have hope. And, maybe we can go from a ratio of 1 out of 100 kids going to college to 10 out of 100.”
Boyd, a 14-year resident of the area who’s operated the Fujihara Store for the past dozen years, has already secured the 4-acre parcel, which houses a former poi factory, where the center will be built and construction is underway. He estimated the field and gym would cost about $165,000.
Thus far, he said before leaving Tuesday, the 1,500-square-foot athletic training center is about 60 percent complete and an accompanying nearly football-sized field is about 50 percent done.
Already complete is a natural organic market, which Boyd said will help support the center’s operations in addition to about 5 percent he sets aside from Fujihara Store sales and earnings from ascents like he’s undertaking now.
“Everything I sell at Fujihara or this new natural organic store, a portion goes into a pool of money that is given back to South Kona,” he said, noting he’s been setting aside about 5 percent to help pay for the center and will continue to do so. “To me, I see it as a pool of money — including parents’ money — that helps pay for their kids to work out.”
He hopes with the funding raised during the ascents will allow him to open the center to area keiki on June 1, in time for summer break. He also hopes to host programs such as a flag football camp and a punt, pass and kick competition like Hookena native AJ Alani recently won on national television.
“When AJ was crowned the National Champion in the USA Punt, Pass and Kick contest, it really solidified my project idea,” Boyd said. “I thought if this great kid from little rural Hawaii can accomplish such an extraordinary feat, well it gave me renewed strength and a strong belief that I am willing to risk my life to raise funds so that more kids like him can have hope.”
While “working out” and athletics will play a major role in the center, Boyd stressed that keiki who use it will also be held to certain standards including maintaining a minimum grade point average of 2.5 and not cursing.
“There’s going to be rules,” he said. “They’ll be expected to sign a personal contract and be held accountable.”
The keiki will also have to agree to spend some time in the center’s planned “Scholar Room” where they will have time to complete homework and study.
“If you’re going to work out with me, you’re going have to be an athlete and a scholar,” he explained. “It’s a code of life and if you live that way things will come better for you.”
Boyd said athletics provided him not only a healthy outlet when growing up, but also helped instill values he continues to carry today.
“It develops a mindset, a discipline that now you can apply to your life,” Boyd said about athletics. “Instead of not caring, the kids might think ‘wait of minute, if I get a 3.0 or 3.5 GPA and maybe I am decent in athletics I can have hope that I can become something more than working at a convenience store.”
If successful climbing the three mountains, Boyd said he will throw in the towel on high-elevation climbing. He’s also pushing to climb the three mountains because a North Carolina man he’s previously climbed Everest with, Michael Arnold, master chief with the U.S. Marine Corps, has pledged a five-figure donation to Boyd’s effort if he can ascend all three mountains.
“If I succeed at this I won’t ever go high again,” he told West Hawaii Today. “I just want to spend my time at this property and just work with kids.”