The father-son team is attempting to raise $100,000 for Orphan Aid Liberia, a charity that provides humanitarian support to an orphanage in the village of Balama. According to Cooper, some 300,000 children live in extreme poverty after they were orphaned in Liberia as a result of a civil war that ended in 2003.
Cooper became acquainted with Cartersville resident and Orphan Aid’s founder, Daryl Roberts, in 2009, and has been supporting the group since.
“When he invited me on the trip, I initially thought I didn’t want to be away from home for two weeks during Asa’s senior year,” said Cooper.
Asa, who is a student at Mt. Paran Christian High School, readily agreed to make school arrangements in order to join his father for the endeavor and will turn 18 during the trip.
The duo are personally paying for 100 percent of the travel costs in order for all money raised to go directly to the orphans for food, medical care, clothes, deworming, education and missionary support.
Cooper said the climb, which begins Feb. 9, will take eight days, and each will carry an 80-pound backpack.
“The mountain is unique in that it has all sorts of weather,” he said. “It will go from desert, to rainy forests, to ice,” Cooper said.
The descent down the mountain is faster and is expected to take a day and a half. Asa plans to webcast during their journey to keep friends and supporters abreast of their progress.
In preparation for the ascent of the mountain that has an elevation of 19,341 feet, the Coopers have spent the last few months training in a cross-fit gym, running and hiking.
Victoria Schneider, marketing director at the law firm, said the cause was inspired in 2008, after firm employees Sherry Kerr and Linda Stricker took a trip to Africa and witnessed the plight of Liberian orphans firsthand. “The desire to help spread fast through our small business,” she said.
To date, the Coopers have raised $10,000 of the goal, but plan to continue fundraising throughout the year. “As Asa and I climb … it is to help rebuild the lives of these children from the ground up,” Cooper said.