Knocking an item off her bucket list is exciting enough, but the chance to do it with her husband while helping a good cause was the trifecta for Ahwatukee Foothills resident Suzanne Nissen.

Suzanne and her husband John, the general manager of Earnhardt Ford in Tempe, will be heading on Sept. 19 to Tanzania in Africa to hike Mount Kilimanjaro for charity. The hike has been organized by One Child Matters, a nonprofit that provides services and funds to communities in third-world countries. As part of this trip, the couple have each raised enough funds to provide health care and an education for a child in an African village through the age of 18.

Suzanne has done a service trip with One Child Matters in the past. Two years ago, she traveled to Swaziland as a dental hygienist and helped dentists provide free care to people there. When the organization approached her about doing another trip, she was thrilled to say yes.

“That trip was a different physical challenge,” she said. “It was almost like a hospital triage center for the kids and we saw over 1,000 kids in a week and provided medical and dental care for them … But that time, I felt like we were able to go in and see the kids and fix everything at that point but then you leave and who carries it on all the way through after that? You felt like you were just a drop of sand in an ocean of problems. This way we get to take the children and care for them all the way through to adulthood. That ball isn’t being dropped.”

On this trip, the couple will arrive in Africa and tour the village and have a chance to meet the kids their specific donations will benefit. After their tour of the village, they’ll be taken to the mountain to begin their hike. The hike will take four days to get to the top and two days to get back down.

The couple has hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim in one day and they’ve been training on Mount Baldy and Camelback Mountain, but 19,300 feet up Mount Kilimanjaro will be a unique challenge.

“You’re there for yourself for sure to see if you can hike the mountain and just to see the beauty of Africa, but it’s also nice to be able to do something for someone less fortunate than yourself,” John said.

The couple was asked to raise $6,000 for each child. Through friends and family, they’re closing in on their goal. To help further their efforts, visit and look for Suzanne and John under “Meet the Climbers.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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