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A passion for peaks

Delmar couple to climb Kilimanjaro along with tennis star for charity

A week from now, Linda and David Burtis will be Africa, setting off on what is likely to be a difficult and extraordinary journey.

The Delmar couple are aiming to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, one of the highest points on the planet, along with an international expedition that includes a tennis star, Olympic athletes and a German paralympic cyclist who will be attempting to make the climb on prosthetic legs. A film crew will be tagging along to document the journey.

As Linda Burtis puts it, the opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro dropped out of the sky.

Experienced trekkers, climbing the Tanzanian peak is an item that's long been on the couple's minds. While watching tennis with her grandkids, Linda heard the announcer mention tennis star Martina Navratilova would be making the climb. A bit of Internet navigation later, the Burtises were reserving their slots as the only Americans in that expedition.

"The short answer is it was meant to be," Linda Burtis said. "I heard about it, I checked it out... They had no Americans, so they were happy to have us sign up."

Navratilova and the Burtises are raising money for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation of America, an organization that offers sporting opportunities to underprivileged youth. For Linda Burtis it's a familiar cause"during her time running the Delmar Tennis Academy she tried to do the same thing with tennis.

The couple is paying their own way for the trip, so donations all go to the nonprofit.

"People have a positive reaction to the kind of charity it is because it's for disadvantaged kids who have a tough life," David Burtis said. "Sports is a very leveling kind of activity. It doesn't matter what your background is."

Before heading to the mountain, the trip will head to Naorobi to visit one of Laureus' programs there, followed by a reception at the U.S. embassy.

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