Maine woman to summit tallest peak in Africa, The Press Herald

Tim Cebula

May 11, 2022

Meet Sylvia Guzman who will endeavor to summit the tallest free-standing mountain in the world

Grape-Nuts helps another Maine woman climb Kilimanjaro

Sylvia Guzman of Portland is part of a four-woman team planning to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in August. Guzman’s team won $12,500 from Grape-Nuts to pay for the expedition. Courtesy of Sylvia Guzman

A second Maine woman has won a cash award from Grape-Nuts to fund her climb Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro this August.

Sylvia Guzman, 27, of Portland, won as part of a four-woman team called Summit Squad 2022, which also includes members from New York, New Jersey and Illinois. Grape-Nuts awarded the squad $12,500 this March, Guzman said, exceeding the women’s goal of raising $20,000 in eight weeks to cover costs for their Kilimanjaro trip.

Another Maine woman, Tiffany Jones, won a $12,500 award from Grape-Nuts for her own Kilimanjaro climb in July. Grape-Nuts celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, and wanted to commemorate it by giving cash awards to nine women climbers (or groups of climbers, as in the case of Summit Squad 2022) around the country who had set up GoFundMe pages to raise money for their expeditions.

“We were overjoyed,” Guzman said of her squad’s reaction to the cash award.

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“When we saw the donation come in, we were truly blown away,” said Heidi Jones, who organized the squad and is helping train them for the climb. She is founder of the New York City-based workout tribe, Sweat To Change.

“In addition to the climb, these women are going to share their stories of overcoming adversity in a powerful documentary that will inspire everyone who sees it.” The squad is now raising money to pay for the documentary.

“None of us have ever done anything like this before,” Guzman said. To condition herself, she runs and does CrossFit several times a week. “I’m also hiking every weekend,” she said, “and since I live in Maine, it’s not hard to do.”

Jones said she organized the all-female expedition because the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected women. She noted that the women participating in Summit Squad 2022 have overcome sexual and life-long emotional abuse, suicidal thought and homophobia.

“There are limits that are set for women that don’t have to be there,” Guzman said. “It’s up to us to redefine what those limits are.”