As Naomi Overton climbed toward the peak of Grand Teton Mountain, her eyes aimed up. And her heart aimed across. Across the United States. Across the Atlantic Ocean. Across Africa, to where millions of children have been orphaned because of the AIDS epidemic.

 

Overton found the Aug. 13 climb to be grueling and painful - the 40-year-old San Diego hiker lost toenails on both of her big toes - but understood the suffering would be temporary.

 

"I knew the pain I was experiencing would end when I was able to change into sandals," she said. "But those children wouldn't have that help."

 

Those children, however, now have more help and hope because of active adults like Overton and Steve Hawk of Oregon, who have participated a new program offered by World Vision that provides food, shelter and other services to AIDS orphans.

 

The program, called Put Hope In Motion, allows Americans to use the activity of their choice to creatively raise funds for the affected children.

 

Participants select any personal fitness or organized group event, such as a marathon, fun run or softball tournament, then register on-line (www.worldvision.org/phim) and design their own fundraising Web page. Next, they invite friends, family, church members or co-workers to go on-line to make a secure donation.

 

Finally, they take part in the event and follow with thank you testimonials and photos.

 

The AIDS orphans receive the blessing through World Vision, but they're not the only ones to benefit. PHIM participants testify to experiencing God's presence, power and peace while struggling to complete their activities.

 

Overton had already planned to climb Grand Teton when she heard God whispering in her ear to use her passion to serve His kingdom.

 

"I thought, 'Well, OK, I'm more a hiker than climber, but let's see what I can do,'" she said.

 

Her spiritual leanings were confirmed when she called World Vision - she sponsors a girl from Mexico - and heard about PHIM. The original trip to the Tetons had been canceled for financial reasons, but then circumstances changed to allow Overton to climb. She sees that as God orchestrating events to bring help to the hurting children in Africa and around the world.

 

Overton safely made it up and down Grand Teton, earning $1,950 from her nearly 40 sponsors.

 

"There was this aspect where it was really good to do this climb as a service to someone else," she said.