Barrie teens trek to Mount Everest in fundraiser for Youth Haven

'The more research about what it was, the more I realized it was something I wanted to do' says Sophie Firanski

Three young people from Barrie have a mountain to climb.

They are doing it to raise funds for Youth Haven, a Barrie-based organization that provides shelter and programs to youth aged 16 to 24 who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

16-year-old Elias Coleshill and 14-year-old Claire Coleshill along with their mom Deb Bobechko will be joined by Bernard Firanski and his 18-year-old daughter Sophie on a trek to the base camp of Mount Everest in Nepal.

The teens launched an auction to raise money to create an ‘Out of the Cold’ space within Youth Haven’s new shelter, which is to be built with support from the Simcoe County Homebuilders’ Association. The space will provide additional beds for the new facility.

The auction has ended, though the teens plan to continue fundraising when they return home because they have a “dream goal” of collecting $15,000 for beds and bedding.

“I was a bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect,” says Sophie Firanski when asked about her initial thought about climbing to an elevation of 17,856 feet. “The more research about what it was, the more I realized that it was something I wanted to do.”

Claire says she is excited to be around her mom’s hiking friends and the views that she will experience during the climb.

The two families departed from Toronto on March 28 with stopovers in Britain and Qatar and will arrive in Lukla, Nepal on Monday, Apr. 3. From there, they will immediately begin their journey, likely starting with a 3-hour trek on that day.

“In total, we hike for 12 days and 165 kilometres,” says Bobecheko. “It’s about eight days up and then two, three, or four days down from Everest.”

Bobechko’s relationship with Youth Haven goes back to 2019 when she climbed 19,340 feet to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise funds for the organization.

At the beginning of the Everest hike, Bobechko says they expect temperatures in the range of 24 or 25 degrees, but at base camp, she has been told it won’t climb much above minus 15, and could even be colder.

“There will be no heat and no water, and let’s say limited facilities for other things.”

Bobechko says taking three teenagers will likely mean some emotional, physical and communications challenges, but she is firmly supportive of the fundraising effort where youth are helping youth.

“I truly believe in everything that Youth Haven does, with the phenomenal staff that they have, and to have someone who believes in and supports our youth.”

The families return home on April 18.

Banner image supplied – Claire Coleshill, 14, Sophie Firanski, 18, Elias Coleshill, 16, Bernard Firanski, Deb Bobechko