Picayune coach uses challenge to give back in trying times

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 25, 2020

Chris Wise had heard of Everesting, a hill climbing challenge, before because a number of athletes used it as a way to raise funds and awareness for charities, so he decided to do the same in hopes of helping out a local food pantry.

The challenge requires a person to find a hill and complete repeats of that hill until they reach 8,848 meters, or the equivalent height of Mount Everest, without sleep.

Wise, who is the cross country and tennis coach at Picayune Memorial High School, completed the Everesting Challenge on April 22 in hopes of raising funds for the Crossroads Food Pantry.

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Wise’s vehicle of choice was his bike and he started before sunlight and rode until 9 p.m. that night.

It eventually became too dark to safely continue riding, so Wise had to end it, but not before he had gone up and down the hill 177 times and traversed 120 miles, which is 24 times more than the 5 mile height of Mt. Everest.

“Everything was hurting. The legs went numb, but you can deal with numb legs. I’ve always had a unique ability to turn pain off, but the monotony of this deal just kept on going,” Wise said.

Wise said organizations like Crossroads have taken on more responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Costs are up while donations and volunteer numbers are down, so Wise thought doing the challenge and encouraging other people to help would be beneficial.

“They’re telling me they’re having more people coming in and having to modify how they give the food out and be extra careful. Because they depend on the extras or leftovers their expenses are greater,” Wise said.

Wise said the food pantry put out a Facebook post detailing the challenge and how people could help.

Wise said he was donating one dollar for every mile he traversed and he’s hoping other community members find ways to help as well.

Sharon Bonnecarrere runs the food pantry and Wise said she texted him with the news that over 700 people had seen the post Wednesday.

By Thursday night, the number had grown to 892, according to Bonnecarrere.

Several community members have donated while others are trying to find other ways to help the organization.

“There have been a lot of people reaching out to us in terms of the address and so on so forth. That’ll be an ongoing thing,” Wise said.

Bonnecarrere said that even a $100 donation would help purchase 700 pounds of mixed food, which accounts for nearly a quarter of the total amount of food ordered by the pantry each month. That much food can feed 15 households.

Bonnecarrere said the pantry served 344 people in 122 households just in the month of April, so for Wise to do this challenge and inspire people to help was appreciated.

“I was just very blessed with them wanting to give back. As long as we keep God first we’ll be fine,” Bonnecarrere said.

Wise was hoping for the best and the community rallied to support the food pantry and its essential role of feeding those in need. “I was just guessing and hoping we would have some support. It is encouraging that so many people are reaching out. I’m excited that people are going to become more aware of it and become more giving,” Wise said.