Seven Summits for a Young Lady
Seeking Adventure, John Renken Found a Cause
Nov. 3, 2013
Written by Philip Grey/Leaf-Chronicle
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — Even John Renken’s friends describe him as extreme in everything he does, which is fine with him – he admits he doesn’t approach anything half-hearted.
An Army veteran and combatives instructor for 5th Special Forces Group on Fort Campbell, as well as a former mixed-martial arts fighter and founder of Xtreme Ministries in Clarksville, Renken doesn’t live quietly, and he’s open with his opinions.
At the same time, he maintains friendships with people at the polar opposites of some of his views, and he makes no apologies for that, either.
That’s why his latest venture into the extreme surprises no one.
On behalf of a 13-year-old niece, Renken, also known as the “fighting preacher,” is about to take the first step toward a goal achieved by only 650 people in the world: To climb the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, including Antarctica.
The goal is to raise money and awareness for the fight against cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease affecting primarily the lungs that afflicts 30,000 people in the U.S., including Renken’s niece, Dalaney Vickrey.
The assault on the disease and on the first mountain begins in less than two weeks, when Renken and three others take on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.
How Renken came into the journey is sheer serendipity.
“On February of this year, I was kind of feeling sorry for myself,” Renken said. “I was retired from MMA, even though I still do martial arts competitions all the time, but it was still a step backwards for me. And so I was asking myself, ‘What am I going to do?’
“I need to be challenged. I need to be in a position where I can excel and be pushed to my limit.
Renken stumbled upon an online deal for a trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro – “a two-week trip to Africa to climb a mountain that’s 19,341 feet tall. And I thought, that sounds tough. I’d like to do that.”
As the idea was playing in his head, the Army sent Renken to the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness II course, which stresses sports psychology, visualization and goal-setting… Keep Reading at Seven Summits For a Young Lady
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