Mount Hood Climber's Widow Finds Closure

A Dallas woman whose husband died on Mount Hood four years ago says her work half a world away has given her a way to honor her husband.

Karen James' husband, Kelly, died while climbing Mount Hood in 2007 with two other climbers.

She has just returned a visit in Zambia with a 4-year-old girl who was born on the same day her husband's body was discovered.

"My 4-year-old little girl named Abigail, her birthday is December 17th, 2006, the same day that they found Kelly in a snow cave," James said. "When I saw her, my heart pretty much melted, because I knew she was supposed to be my sponsored child. It wasn't until I looked at the picture of Kelly and I looked over at her, that the whole life cycle hit me."

James is sponsoring the child through World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization.

James said she learned true joy in Zambia and gained closure to her husband's death through meeting her sponsored child.

"Even though I had all the gifts in sponsoring her, she has given me much more than I'll ever give her," she said. "What it does for your own heart and your own joy is just off the charts. Giving back really is the best medicine for the soul."

In an inteview before her trip, James said her husband and his climbing partner dreamed of helping impoverished children in Africa.

Since her husband's death, James has made it her mission to raise money to bring clean water to 100,000 children in Zambia by drilling deep water wells.

James, Jennifer Smith and three other North Texas women have founded the organization If You Knew.

James and Smith took a 30-minute walk to the water with the women of a village in Zambia.

"When I realized they did that five times a day, I thought, 'There is no way that I can carry it at the weight they carry it that many times, and I wasn't even worthy to walk in their shoes," James said.

She said the remote village hit water during one of the drillings.

"Everybody's singing and dancing -- they are singing with you. They realize that it's life," James said.


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