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Arizona burn survivors successfully climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak

A group of Arizona burn survivors, some as young as 11 and 12, are starting their journey back home after climbing Africa's tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Eight of them practiced for months on peaks like Camelback Mountain and Piestewa to prepare, and on Saturday morning, they departed on a plane back to Arizona.

"We were all hoping the best for everybody. They would just keep supporting you, and keep encouraging you," said Isabella McCune, a 12-year-old burn survivor. "It was like extra special because of that, because I got to do this amazing thing with seven other burn survivors and make the summit with them."

A group of burn survivors, support staff and Valleywise representatives climbed Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this week in a six-day trek.

A group of burn survivors, support staff and Valleywise representatives climbed Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this week in a six-day trek. (Valleywise Health Foundation)

Isabella tackled other mountains on her road to recovery after 65% of her body was burned.

"It was St. Patrick's Day of 2017, and a neighborhood gathering had a fire pit," the 12-year-old explained. "My dad went to light it with a gas can, but the gas can did not have a flame rester so the fumes lit and went back into the can, and it exploded.

After a six-day ascent, she and seven other survivors accompanied by support staff and Valleywise Health representatives successfully conquered the 19,341-foot mountain.

 This was all part of a campaign with called Courage Rising. Beyond showing burn survivors they can do anything, it also supports the new Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health in Phoenix.

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