Daniel Hughes has a seemingly perfect life: he’s young, charming, happily married, has a nice home in London and a great career as a commercial airline pilot. However, during a 2010 trip in South America, he met destitute Bolivian children weakened by malnutrition and realized that he had to get out of his comfort zone to “do something big to help others.”
Daniel decided to raise £1 million for the anti-poverty charity Comic Relief. To do so, he set the goal of being the first person to wear Comic Relief’s trademark red clown nose atop of Mount Everest and show it to the world via the highest-ever Skype Video Call.
He explains, “It wasn’t just about making a Skype Video Call from the top of Everest. It was really about bringing people with me and letting them be part of the journey.”
It was a great idea. Daniel titled his undertaking Everest Million and aimed to get a million individuals to each donate a single British Pound. Now all he needed to do was make it happen.
Daniel had some mountaineering experience but almost no fundraising experience. He says, “I’m the kind of person who does things 100%. So, I took many months off of work without pay. I learned as much as I could about everything from social media to video editing in record time and I trained like crazy.”
At first, many potential sponsors turned down Daniel’s requests. But he kept trying. Satellite company Inmarsat and smartphone-maker HTC were the first to come aboard (HTC became Daniel’s lead sponsor). Suddenly, Daniel had the capability to use Skype for Android anywhere in the world, including the top of Mt. Everest. The band Coldplay joined up too and gave Daniel the right to use their music in his videos and other Everest Million efforts.
Daniel spent all of 2011 and 2012 fundraising and preparing for the climb. He went as far as to run the Nike 10K in his full Everest climbing gear in order to raise awareness for Everest Million.
In May of this year came the moment of truth. Daniel started the ascent of Everest – blogging and doing Skype calls the whole way. He says, “While all the other climbers were resting up for the next day, I was busy making Skype calls and trying to raise more money for charity.”
Daniel’s path ahead was clear. He reached the summit of Everest on Sunday, May 19th, put on a red clown nose and connected on a live Skype Video Call to BBC News via his Android mobile phone. At 8,848 meters above sea level, it is the highest Skype call on record.
Now, from the comfort of his home, Daniel reflects, “I can’t tell you what a roller coaster it’s been in terms of winning support, losing it and winning it again. It’s been a long slog. My wife, Carali, has been the unsung hero behind the scenes too.”
When asked about his goals to climb other peaks, he answers, “I don’t really think about it. It was never about me or mountaineering. It’s about raising the money to fight poverty.”
Daniel is still working toward the Everest Million. To donate to this great cause go to www.everestmillion.com.