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Rising to the Top: C21 CEO Leads Team of Climbers for Charity

Mountain climbing: it’s the ultimate individual and team sport. In many ways it parallels working in real estate. You need to set an objective then find out what it’s going to take to accomplish your goal. Then you have to stick to it and continue to push through any unforeseen obstacles. And if you’re working in a team environment, you must lend a hand to make sure all members of the team meet the target at hand.

Century 21 CEO Rick Davidson, just prior to the Climb for Kids team climb in Mexico Thanksgiving weekend.

“I relate it a lot to the real estate business,” said Rick Davidson, president and CEO of Century 21. “It teaches you to be nimble, to move at the speed of the market and your clients, and to do what’s necessary to meet the objective at the end of the day.”

Davidson, who has been an avid high-altitude climber since the 1990s, decided to combine his extreme sport passion with another endeavor – fundraising for Easter Seals, Century 21’s philanthropic partner benefiting children with disabilities.  So in 2006, Davidson launched Climb for Kids where he annually assembles a team to summit a mountain in order fundraise while inspiring those around them.

“Our business is all about the community,” Davidson said. “And we owe it to our communities to give back and truly be active participants.”

This year, Davidson successfully led the Climb for Kids team up Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatal, Mexico’s highest and third-highest mountains respectively. He was joined by Scott Becker of Century 21 New Millennium, Alexandria, Va., Steve DuBrueler of Coldwell Banker Premier Properties, Winchester, Va., Greg Harrelson and Brendon Payne of Century 21 The Harrelson Group, Myrtle Beach, S. C., Angela Lieb of Century 21 Real Estate LLC, St. Louis, Mo., and Jeff Simon of Century 21 Affiliated, Madison, Wisc.

The team of seven climbed the 17,000- and 18,000-foot mountains in a span of eight days starting Nov. 23. What’s more, it was the first high-altitude climb for four of the seven team members.

Members of the 2012 Climb for Kids team at the summit of Pico de Orizaba.

“To get those four people to take a risk and make a commitment so significant, and then get out and make it happen, it says a lot about the inspiration,” Davidson said.

Because team members live in different parts of the United States, they did much of their training independently. They committed to and communicated training regiments, expectations, and equipment lists.  And they set a goal to raise one dollar per foot of elevation climbed, for a combined total of $100,000. With an active social media and blog campaign, so far the team has raised nearly $40,000. They are accepting donations through the end of the year.

“There comes a point on the mountain where it’s unsafe to unclip from anyone on the rope team – either because the mountain is too steep or too dangerous. If one person on your team is unable to reach the summit no one does,” said Davidson, who says he awestruck by what his team was able to accomplish. “This was the toughest climb I’ve done in my climbing career in terms of what it took for me physically and mentally to get to the summit.”

As the leader of Century 21, Davidson has seen the influence his philanthropic involvement has had on the company.

“I will ask our affiliates to step up and do the right thing, but I’m also willing to put my money where my mouth is,” he said about his fundraising efforts. “As someone leading an organization like Century 21, it humanized you. It puts you in a different place, and people recognize this is about your heart and making a difference in the communities where we live and work.”

For more information about Climb for Kids, or to make a donation, visit the CENTURY 21 Easter Seals Champions Page.

Erica Christoffer

Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at echristoffer@realtors.org.

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