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Continental Fresh to summit tallest peak in the Caribbean for Clean Water

Continental Fresh has a long history of being passionate about water issues. Now it has come up with a great way of getting people involved to make a difference.

With 663 million people today lacking access to clean water, no effort to decrease this number can be considered too small, or too bold — including climbing a mountain.

To that end, Continental Fresh is promoting BLUE Missions’ Trek for Clean Water in November where hikers will climb the tallest mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, in order to fundraise for water projects in the Dominican Republic.

While the challenge may seem daunting to some, Albert Perez, chief executive officer of Continental Fresh, is no rookie to the climb. “This will be my ninth year hiking Pico Duarte, said Perez. “Each time I gain a greater appreciation for nature and the valuable resources we have been entrusted with. On this hike you are surrounded by 189,000 acres of pristine rainforest, crystal rivers, and flora and fauna. When you reach the top of that peak, you feel like you conquered the world.”

Robert Cabili, director of business development for Continental Fresh, also participated in the hike several years ago. “Pico Duarte pushed me to my limits. I had no idea what I was capable of accomplishing until this trek. Reaching the summit with my team was one the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” he said.

The hike begins in the town of La Cienaga, Dominican Republic. On day one, hikers take on a nine-hour ascent as lush rainforest becomes temperate pinelands. They arrive at basecamp to the reward of a warm campfire and hot chocolate. On the second day of the trek, after ascending the final stretch of switchbacks and elevation gain, the group reaches the summit (10,128 feet) to take in spectacular views of the Dominican countryside. On the final day, hikers descend 11 miles back to the starting point and are taken to BLUE Missions headquarters in Santiago.

The next morning, the group visits a rural community that has benefitted from a recent water project. They spend time getting to know the local families, sharing a meal together and witnessing first-hand the impact of clean water as they learn about life before the project. Many women and children in these communities walk up to three hours a day collecting enough water for their families, water that usually carries bacteria and parasites that in turn make them sick. After a water project, all that families need to do to collect water is turn on a faucet in their homes.

Maria Compres, Continental’s chief financial officer, will be attempting her fifth summit. “The peace and serenity of the mountains is a great break from the fast pace of our industry,” she said. “Getting to meet some of the people that we are helping is also very special.”

Perez first hiked the mountain in 2011 and has returned ever since, bringing along friends and now groups looking to make an impact by partnering with BLUE Missions, a nonprofit organization that has connected more than 20,000 people with access to clean water. Each hiker commits to raise at least $250 for clean water before their hike, collecting pledges and donations through their individual online fundraising page.

“This trek is very dear to me as my daughter, Isabella, was born in the foothills of these mountains,” said Perez. “I have been coming back ever since she was born as a sign of gratitude for the gift she has been in my life. She herself will be coming along to test her hiking skills for the fifth time.”

The trek for water is part of Continental Fresh’s ongoing efforts to provide families with access to clean water in rural communities across Latin America. The company has vowed to donate a portions of their overall profits to improve rural public health through clean water.

Those interested can sign up and start training for this adventure with a cause. Hikers need not be experienced, but must be in shape and have strong cardiovascular endurance. If interested visit www.bluemissions.org/pico-duarte or call Albert Perez at Continental Fresh at 305/860-9611.