Alum Climbs Mt. McKinley for Charity

Rapp, center, at the summit.
Rapp, center, at the summit.

Some people spend their summer vacation at the beach or traveling through Europe.  David Rapp, SMHS MD ’01, spent his climbing Alaska’s Mt. McKinley—and fundraising to help others in the process.

Rapp spent three grueling weeks climbing North America’s tallest mountain—a feat for which he trained extensively.  He did so not only to achieve a personal goal, but also to raise money for a the non-profit he helped found.

These types of physical challenges aren’t new to Rapp, but in 2012, he decided to take them to the next level by combining them with another of his passions—medical missions.

Rapp, a urologist with Virginia Urology, is no stranger to medical missions or athletic challenges—which is how he came to realize the importance of the stories behind each endeavor.  With a desire to honor the symbiotic relationship between these efforts, Giving to Extremes (GTE), was born.

GTE has two missions: raising money to help fund surgical missions in impoverished nations around the world, and sharing stories—both of the inspirational medical missions, and the fundraisers who make them possible by pursuing athletic challenges.

The charity enrolls athletes to run, cycle, swim and climb, while fundraising to support GTE’s missions.  In addition, the GTE website is specifically designed to allow these athletes to tell their stories—from long months of training to the final event— through photos, videos and blogs.  Medical mission volunteers also share their adventures on the GTE site, so that friends and family can follow along and see the impact of their efforts.

“Quite simply, says Rapp, “our motto is ‘turn what you are good at doing…into doing good for others.’ ”
Rapp took that motto to heart this summer as he ascended Mt. McKinley, having trained for more than a year.  The trip marked his first time raising money via a physical challenge, which, he says made the experience much more meaningful.

“With each difficult step, it was easier knowing that my efforts were helping many, many others,” he says.

Rapp and his group reach the summit.
Rapp and his group reach the summit.

Rapp knows firsthand how important this help can be; he’s been on numerous medical missions to provide aid to developing countries.  How’d he become involved?  “I participated in my first mission, to Honduras, as a third year medical student at GW,” he says.  “It made me realize that this was something very important, and something I wanted to incorporate into my career.”

With his first GTE trip behind him, Rapp looks forward to continuing to challenge himself while helping others in the process.  “We hope to help inspire the next generation of philanthropic leaders through our various student chapters across the region,” he says.

If you’re considering a physical challenge—whether it’s a 5k, a marathon, or mountain climbing, Rapp strongly encourages you to not only do it but to also do so for a great cause.

“With a little extra effort, GTE can help you transform your challenge into a fundraiser that changes lives forever,” he says.  “It’s the experience of a lifetime.”  For more information, contact Rapp at:


Watch a video of Rapp’s full climb!

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