Dawn Hendricks, owner of Peridot Fine Jewelry in Larchmont, N.Y., is boarding an airplane for Tanzania with her husband, Chuck Hendricks, tomorrow—intent on climbing Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.
The couple is making the eight-day, seven-night trek up the 19,341-foot dormant volcano to support the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which funds efforts to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease.
On their climb up, the couple will move through five distinct ecosystems, ranging from a humid jungle to an arid, frozen peak.
Never mind that Dawn broke her wrist a few weeks ago on a hike, and has convinced her doctor to take off her cast today—early, she concedes—so she has more mobility on the climb.
After all, there’s a pressing imperative at play.
Roughly five years ago, Chuck, 59, woke up with a limp that days later he still couldn’t shake. After filing through the offices of several medical specialists, he was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease.
The Hendricks family kept his diagnosis private for years but came out publicly with it last year. They’ve since become vocal advocates and fundraisers in the ongoing mission to find a cure for the degenerative disease.
Dawn and Chuck Hendricks on a recent hike
Chuck attended the New York City Marathon with the Team Fox camp, which is the fundraising arm of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, earlier this year. But when he approached Dawn with the idea of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the charity soon after, she shrugged it off as a wild notion that he’d soon abandon.
But Chuck persisted. And after overcoming some shock at the mere idea, Dawn finally agreed to partner with him on the epic trek.
“He’s great with a goal and he’s great with adventures, and that supersedes everything for him,” says Dawn, who added with a laugh, “He’s a little more like ‘What have you done with my wife?’ This isn’t something I would have done before in my life. He’s not sure who I am right now!”
The couple is within sight of their fundraising goal of $50,000 for the trip. As of this morning, they’ve raised $46,285 (donate to Team Hendricks here).
The Jessica Hendricks–designed bracelet at Peridot—proceeds of its sale support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation
Dawn and Chuck’s daughter, jewelry designer Jessica Hendricks, created an exclusive bracelet to support fundraising efforts. The $48 metal-and-blue cordage bracelet features the word “Khahan,” which is Khmer for “Brave.”
One hundred percent of the profits from the bracelet, which is sold online and in-store, support the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Bracelet sales currently total around $1,500, says Dawn.
With their fundraising goals nearly met—and miles of practice climbs under their belt—the retailer says she and her hubby are ready to face the peak.
“I feel good!” she enthuses. “And I just saw that an eight-year-old climbed it—the youngest person on record. If she can do it, I feel like I can do it, too.”
(Top: Dawn and Chuck Hendricks hiking. All images courtesy of Dawn Hendricks)