49ers' Ben Garland Helps Raise over $205K for Charity Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2020

San Francisco 49ers offensive guard Ben Garland (63) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers center Ben Garland helped raise over $205,000 for charity while becoming the first active NFL player to reach the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.

ESPN's Nick Wagoner reported the trip also included former NFL defensive end Lamarr Houston, water advocates and military veterans in coordination with Waterboys, an initiative started by former NFL defensive end Chris Long to bring clean water to countries in need.

The money raised will help with the installation of two clean water wells in Tanzania, where Mount Kilimanjaro is located, per Wagoner.

Garland provided ESPN with a diary he kept during his 11-day journey to the mountain's summit. Here's a portion of his memories from reaching the mountaintop:

"As we traversed the rim, the sun began to rise, illuminating the grandeur of the volcano. A 360-degree view revealed the glaciers and allowed you to see all the way to Kenya. The beauty of the sunrise was in stark opposition to the brutality of the altitude. We saw three people being rescued and carried off the mountain. The first man was as white as a ghost, covered in frozen snot stuck to his cheeks and mustache, with his eyes rolling in the back of his head.

"About an hour later we saw the sign at the summit. This image gave everyone a new burst of energy. When we reached the sign, it was like winning a big game. There were high-fives, hugs and tears as we took our victorious pictures. ...

Garland told Wagoner the trip was a "life-changing experience" and said he wants to return to Africa as the initiative attempts to reach its goal of providing clean water to one million people.

The 32-year-old Colorado native, who's a reserve member of the Colorado Air National Guard after playing college football at the Air Force Academy, re-signed with the Niners in March after joining the franchise last April. He previously played for the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.