By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
3:13 PM EDT, July 9, 2013
Although retired Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was unable to make the climb of Mount Kilimanjaro because of a foot injury and fever, he did his part on the ground.
During his visit to Africa, Lewis conducted an impromptu meeting with the President of Tanzania. He gave Jikaya Kilwete a Ravens cap, according to the charity organizations, WorldServe International and TackleKili.
Lewis spent over an hour with President Kilwete and received an invitation to return in the future for service.
Lewis is in East Africa as part of a philanthropic clean-water project along with former Chicago Bears Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris and Doug Pitt, the brother of actor Brad Pitt and a good-will ambassador to Tanzania. Without Lewis, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the group completed the climb to the 19,340-foot summitt, the highest in Africa.
Lewis and the group provided hearing aids in a nearby village. He also visited an orphanage where World Serve International installed a deep water well operated by solar power.
"Water is life," Doug Pitt said in a statement. "More than 4,500 children die every day for want of clean water. We start with water made possible through donations to WorldServe International; from there, everything follows."
Lewis spent time with the children at the orphanage, where he exchanged greetings, shared pictures and requested a list of their needs, according to WorldServe.
Prior to leaving, Lewis added a handprint in paint on the main wall of a classroom.
After realizing he wouldn't be able to make the climb because of his condition, Lewis commented on a video about his support of the people of Africa.
"The greatest thing we have in life is called opportunity," Lewis said. "It's what you do with opportunity that will actually leave a lasting legacy. This team we put together to go impact lives after lives and lives and to touch people that may never know our names, but will remember our legacy because of what we did to bring clean water to the motherland back to unfortunate people to give them a second opporutnity to say, 'You know what, somebody thought about us even when we didn't have an opporutnity to think about ourselves.'
"They never think about themselves. They only think about the next day. This group has thought about other people. They put all their pains aside. We came together to make the world a better place. Lets bless people and get to the top of that mountain. Nothing can stop us. All things are possible."
Lewis, 38, who retired after winning his second Super Bowl with the Ravens, now works for ESPN as a football analyst. He issued a statement last month about his involvement in the climb.
“In one month, I will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money and awareness for clean water projects in East Africa," Lewis wrote. "I am so FIRED UP for this adventure, but until then, I need your help to bring clean water wells to thousands of children and families. Show your support by following my TackleKili journey, spreading the word, and donating to TackleKili.”