My name is Mark Guido and I’m 26 years old. I’m from the Greater Chicago Area, where steel mountains reign supreme and snowy peaks are left to my imagination.
I’m currently waiting tables at The Cheesecake Factory for a living, an industry that attracts some of the most dynamic individuals because it gives you the flexibility to cultivate your passions. It helps give you the extra time to find out who you are and the support to become who you were always meant to be!
In 2017, at the age of 23, I discovered my love for summiting the world’s highest peaks. To nobody’s surprise, there aren’t many mountains in Illinois. The highest natural point is a whopping 376 meter (1,235 foot) high hill so you can understand my rather late interest in the sport of mountaineering. Nevertheless, I’ve always had the spirit of adventure. I’ve completed several long-distance treks in the past that have taken me to some of the far-flung reaches of the world. Eventually, I wanted to go higher, and really push the boundaries of my human-potential. This would ultimately lead to my first high-altitude mountaineering experience in Africa where I summited Mount Kilimanjaro. It was a life-changing moment that seemed to quantify my self-worth as I stood on top of Africa. All self-doubts disappeared. I fell in love with the challenge of mountain climbing and have never looked back!
For some, the thrill of the climb is the sole motivator, but I’m one of those people that needs to take in the scenery and enjoy the moment. On my various climbs, I’ve realized that the children of the areas I’ve visited did not have the resources for a decent education. I’m the son of a teacher, so I was instantly aware that if something could be done for these children, it should be done. I was quick to partner with different groups and create Project 43324 to support the local children in the areas I have climbed and will climb in the future. Before each climb, I have the children sign a special flag unique to each location that accompanies me to the summit. This is what keeps me motivated. I’m no longer climbing for myself, I’m climbing with and for all these children to show them that anything is possible!
This June, I depart for the Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska to climb Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Project 43324 is supporting SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, specifically, the Chicago village located in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, which provides support to the local children and their families in my home state.
I welcome you to follow me and my mission and hope you will consider supporting these local groups that help children every day!
See you at the top!