Tyler Armstrong is back. The seven-year-old blond boy with two missing front teeth, who made last year’s headlines after becoming one of the youngest to climb Mount Whitney, is on to his next big obstacle, Mount Kilimanjaro. And he’s climbing it for a good cause.
In an effort to raise money and awareness for the nonprofit organization CureDuchenne in Newport Beach, Tyler, now eight, will attempt to summit the 19,341-foot mountain and become the second youngest to do so. He will be climbing for his friend, 12-year-old Suhail Zaveri, of Anaheim, who is among the 300,000 boys diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy around the world.
“I am doing this climb to help Suhail and other boys my age that have Duchenne because most of them have a hard time even walking,” says Tyler.
The Yorba Linda youth who yearns to climb began conquering crags after watching the documentary Walking the Great Divide with his dad, Kevin. It was after this that Tyler began expressing an interest in climbing Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous US.
His father thought he was kidding.
“We considered him a normal, lazy child who liked video games,” Kevin told The Orange County Register. “For some reason, this has just stuck with him.”
Tyler began eating healthy and exercising in preparation. Eager to get climbing, it wasn’t long before he and his dad attempted an array of higher altitude mountains in the area, including Mount Wilson, Mount Lowe and Mount Baldy.
After completing these hikes and receiving the green light from dad, Tyler was off to Mount Whitney. He reached the top in seven hours and 50 minutes, surpassing his dad’s previous record of nine hours with time to spare.
Even then, Tyler had spoken of making a run at Mount Kilimanjaro, a mountain that has proven to be formidable. The volcanic landscape is comprised of peaks that form the highest mountain in Africa, while the sharp elevation levels add to the Tanzanian terrain’s difficulty. A special permit to hike Kilimanjaro had to be requested from the local government because Tyler is under age 10.
If all goes as planned, the climb will take place from June 25 to July 2. It is being coordinated through CureDuchenne’s fourth annual Climb to CureDuchenne Pick Your Peak event, where participants climb a mountain, hill or even a tall building to raise funds and spread awareness.
One in 3,500 boys are diagnosed with Duchenne, and many don’t survive through their 20s.
“Boys with Duchenne, Tyler and CureDuchenne all seem to have one thing in common – determination,” says Debra Miller, founder and CEO of CureDuchenne. “We are thrilled Tyler decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to help find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy on behalf of the Duchenne boys who can’t.”