College of DuPage alumnus journeys to the top of the world
College of DuPage alumnus and American mountaineer Mark Guido has an ambitious goal of joining the seven summits club, a select group of roughly 400 people worldwide who have climbed the highest mountain peaks on every continent. To date, Guido has successfully climbed three summits in Africa, South America and Europe and has helped raise more than $10,000 for youth development around the world.
Guido calls himself a regular guy with an irregular dream.
"I'm allowing my adventurous spirit to play out," he said. "Three years ago, I traveled to Africa and decided to climb the highest mountain on the continent. This was my first high altitude mountaineering experience and I fell in love with the challenge. From then on, I have fully committed to pushing my physical and mental limits in some of the most dangerous environments."
In the midst of Guido's climbing adventures, he launched Peaks for Purpose, a project linking his ambitious climbing goals to building a better future for children in need worldwide. Each of Guido's expeditions is dedicated to organizations that support local children in the area he is climbing.
"I've realized that the children of the areas I've visited did not have the resources for a decent education," he said. "I'm the son of a teacher, so I was instantly aware that if something could be done for these kids, it was my responsibility. I was quick to partner with different groups that support the local children and, in doing so, my project has helped the lives of many."
Before each climb, Guido has local children sign a special flag unique to each location that he carries with him to the summit.
"That is what keeps me motivated," he said. "I'm no longer climbing for myself. I'm climbing with and for all these kids to show them that anything is possible."
The 2013 COD graphic design graduate said that through Peaks for Purpose he is able to combine his love for graphic design, which blossomed at COD, and his love for adventure.
"Being a graphic design student has really helped with various logo designs and the layout of my website," Guido said. "At COD, I learned that everything you design should have a purpose and be intentional. The vibrant colors of the logo I designed represent diversity, which embodies what Peaks for Purpose is all about."
Guido said he graduated from COD with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that he hopes other COD students carry with them.
"Don't feel boxed into one area of study," he said. "Step outside of your comfort zone. Create meaningful experiences by helping others who need it most."
In light of COVID-19, Guido's plan to climb the highest mountain peak in North America, Denali, was canceled, but he used his time fundraising for children in vulnerable areas.
"The pandemic is putting extreme stress on already vulnerable children," he said. "Families need masks, hand sanitizers and disinfectants, as well as the tools and resources for maintaining their children's education and emotional health. Through fundraising, we were able to make an immediate difference by providing technology, lifesaving sanitation, hygiene supplies, and both online and offline educational resources."
Currently, Guido is training to climb Mount Everest via the South Col route next April to raise money for children at a village in Nepal.
"For some, the thrill of the climb would be motivation enough, but when I stand on top of a mountain, it's not about me," he said. "My climbs invest in children's futures and that's what keep me motivated."