A climb for charity


A local business executive formed a team to conquer Mount Kilimajaro, raising $20,000 for charity in the process.

David Lesniak, a resident of Northwest Austin who lives within the Leander ISD school zone, is CEO of Austin-based business process outsourcing services company Personiv. Lesniak and eight members of the company's management formed a group intent on climbing the famed mountain — actually a dormant volcano — in the African country of Tanzania.  

The group began its trek on March 2 and summited the mountain six days later on March 8. 

“All nine of our team were able to make it to the top successfully thanks to the superb program guides provided by the African Walking Company,” Lesniak said.

Part of the motivation for this trek came from Lesniak wanting to reward his senior management team of eight with the special trekking experience, as it had been considered a bucket list item for many.

Lesniak wanted to do more so with this trip he decided to also raise money a charity. His fundraiser, called “Trek for a Cause,” raised money online for Miracle Foundation — founded on Mother’s Day in 2000 by another local resident, Caroline Boudreaux.

The charity provides life changing care to orphaned and vulnerable children globally and with a strong presence in India. Sharing Austin roots and support for communities in India brought these two organizations together.

“To date, we have raised over $20,000 to benefit this Austin non-profit,” Lesniak said.

To prepare for the Mount Kilimanjaro journey, the Personiv team trained for six months, with Lesniak running some 3 miles nearly every morning and hiking 20 miles each weekend through the Steiner Ranch neighborhood where he has lived for more than a decade.

The Personiv team was made up of Lesniak, Michael Murphy, CFO, Paulo Cheung, EVP operations Philippines, Fredricks John, EVP operations Coimbatore India,  Vishal Bora EVP operations Gurugram India, Lydia Adams VP marketing and communications, John Nichols VP account management, David Graham VP client services and Matt Wood senior program manager.

Mount Kilimanjaro — Africa’s highest peak, with an elevation of 19,341 feet — took about fifteen hours for the team to travel after seven days hiking prior to summit day.

“The trek was intense,” Lesniak said. “We burned an average of 1,500 calories per day.”

He described the summit day hike as the most intense day.

“We woke at 11 p.m., had ‘breakfast’ and began hiking at midnight from base camp up 4,000+ feet,” he explained. “It took us 8.5 hours of hiking in the dark with headlamps to reach the summit. We summited at 8:30 a.m. and spent about 20 minutes at (peak) altitude, then began hiking back down.”

The hike down to base camp only took two hours, after which, they hiked another four and a half hours to their next camp.  

“Total hiking on summit day with virtually no sleep was about 15 hours in total,” Lesniak said.

Looking back on the adventure, Lesniak said he and his team grew closer with the experience of a lifetime, with the added bonus of helping others in the process.