Charles "Lucky" Patton

Charles "Lucky" Patton (1950-2006)

Charles "Lucky" Patton was the co-founder of Climb for Sight. He summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2000 as part of the first fund-raising adventure to benefit indigent children in Guatemala in need of funding for sight-saving surgery. Lucky loved children everywhere. He passed from this life on April 8th, 2006 after a short and heroic struggle with cancer. We have named the climb in his honor.

Born on the shores of Lake Erie, Charles "Lucky" Patton spent a large part of his childhood adventuring on the family farm, and developing an outdoorsman's curiosity for what lies over the horizon. At 18, he went to college in Santa Barbara, California to study philosophy. He paid his way through school by working as a Volkswagen mechanic. While in college, Lucky's principal mode of transport was a bicycle, and his main hobbies were surfing, playing guitar, rock and ice climbing, and practicing Zen meditation under the tutelage of Zen Master Yasutani Roshi.

After college, Lucky’s venturing took him from surfing the Baja coast to canoeing the Kenai Peninsula to cross country skiing in Lake Placid. He worked for the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, laying cables on Whiteface Mountain. He then began working for Time Inc. in New York City, traveling throughout Europe, USA and Asia, helping develop the first digital transmission of color images. Lucky's latest career journey was commercial real estate. Lucky could build most anything, cook everything, and speak with authority on an amazing array of subjects ranging from organic farming to the intricacies of the fuel injection system of a Porsche. His intellect was always high gear, his wit sharp, his manner gentle, and his being centered.

Of all Lucky's interests and capabilities, he was most joyous when he was with his daughter Elaura, sharing meals, skiing, camping, or just hanging out. If there is no greater love than a parent for a child then Lucky was love incarnate.

Chuck's daughter, Elaura (left in photo), and her cousin Lindsay (right) summited Kilimanjaro on January 2011. Here is an entry from their travel blog:

They say that the hike from Kibo Huts (about 15,500 ft) to Gillman's point (about 18,500 ft) is an elevation gain equivalent to 3 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of one another. The actual walking distance is equivalent to 9 Empire State Buildings lined up on a 16% slope. At that point you still have about an hours walk from the true summit Uhuru (Freedom) Peak.

After three days of hiking, we reached Kibo Huts to face our daunting ascent. We had dinner that evening at 4pm, slept for a few hours, and then woke at 10pm to hike through the evening. On my walk to the "bathroom" before our departure, I stepped outside to see that snow was falling and a girl was puking from altitude illness. However, once we were on our way we found we had a bright moon to light our path, and didn’t even use headlamps. About 7 hours later, we reached the summit ridge in time to see the sunrise over Africa. Despite the thin air, we felt strong, we were certainly tired and breathing hard with each step. I know Lucky was looking over his little girl with pride and love. It was an emotional. exhausting, and amazing accomplishment.

I read a statistic somewhere that said only one in four people make it to the top…well, classically defying statistics, all four people in our group made it to the summit!

This mountain will be a part of us forever, there is no place on earth quite like it. I think we may be in a small minority of people who ever sang the Tanzanian national anthem and the Jambo song on the way up the steepest portion of Kili. Along the summit ridge one of our guides let me, the "American guide" lead the way and for the final stretch where Elaura and I walked arm in arm to the summit. In that moment I felt so blessed for all the friends and family that supported us throughout this adventure, your strength was with us and we are so grateful.

Mom, I want to thank you for the pounds of M&Ms that you sent with Elaura, one pound, of course, was consumed on the Safari but a small baggie was packed in my chest pocket close to my heart so I knew I could make it one step at a time. At one point I was able to hand feed Elaura and our guide, Abuu, M&Ms since it was too cold to take off our gloves and Elaura was about to pass out. Sure beats Mt. Jo!

Our bodies are sore and unsettled, stairs are hard for us as is sitting down on the toilet. We travel home to the states tonight and hope to upload some photos soon. So please check back, I am sure there will be more blogging; as we are still processing this incredible adventure...

Sending you our love from Africa,

Lindsay (and Elaura)!

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Overall the trip was tremendous and truly a trip of a lifetime and at 66 years old it was now or maybe never. Everything was first class and I could think of no area for improvement.

Bob Riley