Post submitted by Mitchell Scuzzarella, former HRC Digital Media Intern

Native Illinoisan Joe Rudy is preparing to scale the heights of Mount Everest in the name of marriage equality.

The 26-year-old openly gay climber hopes to raise over $100,000 for both HRC and Equality Illinois, lending a welcome hand to the movement happening in his home state and around the country.

“At the end of the day all I really want is the chance to raise a family, in my community as a respected, recognized member of society married to the person I love,” Rudy told HRC. “And if this climb can help bring the fight for LGBT rights to a few people who may never have been open minded or exposed to it before, then it is a success in my opinion.”

Rudy is an experienced climber, having already climbed Alaska’s Mt. McKinley, and Argentina’s Aconcagua Mountain. Everest however, at 29,029 feet above sea level, will surely be one of his greatest challenges. Rudy plans to ascend the north side of the peak in March 2014.

As a member of HRC’s Athletes for Equality program, Rudy is no stranger to the struggle to raise awareness for LGBT rights. Members of Athletes for Equality push themselves physically to raise critical funding for HRC’s work.

“The climb will take over two months, and I think might be a decent comparison to the difficulties LGBT people face living in a country where we don't have equal rights,” said Rudy.

He has already begun his year-long training to prepare for the climb. While his tireless efforts are commendable, Rudy still feels that the greatest heroes are the people who are rarely recognized in the fight for equality.

Learn more about Rudy’s climb by visiting his website and help by making a contribution, or sponsoring a prayer flag for Rudy to take to the summit.

Updates on his climb are available on the Everest4Equality’s Facebook and Twitter.

joe rudy, everest climb, marriage equality

 joe rudy, everest climb, training, marriage equality

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