Steiner man conquers Mt. Kilimanjaro while raising $20k for charity

The nine person team hiked for over eight hours in order to reach the highest peak in Africa, at 19,341 ft.

By MADISON PHARIS, Four Points News

Steiner Ranch resident David Lesniak, CEO of Austin-based Personiv, and members of his management team formed a nine-person group to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for the sake of charity.

They began their trek on March 2 and summited Mt Kilimanjaro on March 8.

“All nine of our team were able to make it to the top successfully thanks to the superb program guides provided by the African Walking Company,” Lesniak said.

Part of the motivation for this trek came from Lesniak wanting to reward his senior management team of eight with the special trekking experience, as it had been considered a bucket list item for many.

Personiv is a locally based, outsourced business service company that delivers an array of services to companies in North America and Australia and delivery centers in the Philippines and India.

Lesniak wanted to do more so with this trip he decided to also raise money for Miracle Foundation. This Mt. Kilimanjaro fundraiser, called “Trek for a Cause,” raised money online for Miracle Foundation, founded on Mother’s Day in 2000 by another local, Caroline Boudreaux.

The charity provides life changing care to orphaned and vulnerable children globally and with a strong presence in India. Sharing Austin roots and support for communities in India brought these two organizations together.

“To date, we have raised over $20,000 to benefit this Austin non-profit,” Lesniak said.

To prepare for this the Mt Kilimanjaro journey, the Personiv team trained for six months, with Lesniak running some 3 miles nearly every morning and hiking 20 miles each weekend through Steiner, where he’s lived for a dozen years.

The Personiv team was made up of Lesniak, Michael Murphy, CFO, Paulo Cheung, EVP operations Philippines, Fredricks John, EVP operations Coimbatore India,  Vishal Bora EVP operations Gurugram India, Lydia Adams VP marketing and communications, John Nichols VP account management, David Graham VP client services, and Matt Wood senior program manager.

Mt. Kilimanjaro Africa’s highest peak at an elevation of 19, 341 feet took about fifteen hours for the team to travel after seven days hiking prior to summit day.

“The trek was intense,” Lesniak said. “We burned an average of 1,500 calories per day.”

He described the summit day hike as the most intense day.

“We awoke at 11 p.m., had ‘breakfast’ and began hiking at midnight from base camp up 4,000+ feet,” he explained. “It took us 8.5 hours of hiking in the dark with headlamps to reach the summit. We summited at 8:30 a.m. and spent about 20 minutes at 19,341 Ft. altitude, then began hiking back down.”

The hike down to base camp only took two hours, after which, they hiked another 4.5 hours to their next camp.  

“Total hiking on summit day with virtually no sleep was about 15 hours in total,”  Lesniak said.

He and his team grew closer with the experience of a lifetime while helping others in the process through charity.

The trekkers began their ascent at 12 a.m. and had to climb with the use of headlights for a majority of the journey up. before reaching the peak at 8 a.m.

Upon reaching the summit, the climbers spent twenty minutes on Mt. Kilimamjaro’s peak before starting the two hour hike back down.