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A 300-pound-woman takes on Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. After all, anything can be done one step at a time, right? Read more

Summit, NJ Documentary
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pledged of $25,000 goal
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Funding Unsuccessful

This project's funding goal was not reached on March 16, 2012.

A 300-pound-woman takes on Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. After all, anything can be done one step at a time, right?

Summit, NJ Documentary
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About this project


The biggest health problem in the nation is obesity and none of the current solutions (from diet plans to surgery) seem to be doing much to solve it.

I felt like I tried everything but wasn't making any progress on my own weight loss journey. I had spent more than a decade above the 300-pound mark. If anything, my weight was holding me back from life.

I used to be the kind of person who would look at adventure travel catalogs and say, "I'll do that when I lose weight." It all changed one New Year's Eve, when I wrote down what I wanted to do, as opposed to what I wanted to lose.

I decided to go ahead and start hiking. Flat trails led to molehills; molehills led to mountains - eventually the highest freestanding mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro.

I took on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, in 2007 and never looked back. I wrote Fat Woman on the Mountain, a memoir about my experience and shared my story in person with many others around the country. I've now hiked Mount Kilimanjaro three times, but most people would have to see it to believe it. I decided to document my third journey up the mountain with the hope of encouraging others to lead active and healthy lifestyles.

Big Fat Mountain is that story.


(If you're wondering what "Mama Kubwa" means, it's "Big Woman" in Swahili.)

DIRECTION OF DREAMSWhen I started hiking, I could barely climb a staircase. My three Kilimanjaro hikes have raised thousands of dollars for Global Alliance for Africa's programs to help AIDS orphans.

Big Fat Mountain is really about how anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it. The intention is to inspire people to overcome obstacles - whether it is weight or something else - and move in the direction of their dreams.

This project has not been without challenges. I had been working with Emmy-award winning Executive Producer Denise Cramsey (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, True Beauty, School Pride). Then, just before Thanksgiving 2010, she died from a brain aneurysm. She was 41. I vowed to complete the project and dedicate it to her memory; after all, she loved mountains as much as I do. I am grateful to her wonderful fiancé Scott Farquharson (Fear Factor, Wipeout, Expedition Impossible) and colleagues such as executive producer Derek Wan and production coordinator Jessica Devra Ferstand who have coached me along this uphill path of making a documentary.

The format and timeline changed, but I stayed with the project, knowing it would find a home. Joining me on my journey were my husband's cousin Stacey Pratt of Boston, who also struggles with her weight, and friends Sally Kidd and Tracey Ford of Washington, DC (who were training for an Iron Man). Sharon Dennis of Reel World Productions is the project's rockstar Director of Photography. Sydney Clover is the producer, assistant camera person, and one of the bravest people I know.

PROJECT STATUSSo far, I have funded this project with my own savings. I have more than 20 hours of incredible, professional HD footage that will make an awesome, inspiring hour-long documentary television special. I’ve documented my challenges and triumphs, and now I am asking for your support to complete the project and share it with the world.

I need at least $25,000 to edit the footage into a rough cut, which will bring it to the next level of presenting it to mountain film festivals and television networks that have already expressed an interest in it. That's the bare minimum to cover editing, music licensing, marketing and expenses such as graphics, film entries, legal fees and insurance.


The only hitch of Kickstarter is that if I don’t make my goal, I don’t get a dime. If I reach it or exceed it, my project will be funded with your support and will become a reality.

In my years as a “not-your-average” adventurer, I’ve learned that you can cover great distances one step at a time. That's what this Kickstarter campaign is all about: reaching out to people who want to make this project happen, one dollar (or more!) at a time.

Of course, your support of any amount will be recognized. As little as a $25 contribution will gain recognition as a supporter on (after the successful campaign). There are also opportunities for DVDs, film credits, premiere invitations and even executive producer credits.

Any funds in addition to the goal will be put to work on the project's finishing touches (color correction and soundtrack) and marketing budget. If there is enough, I'll start plotting more documentary adventures (Big Fat Mountain Machu Picchu, Everest Base Camp, Grand Canyon and more) on my path to wellness and inspiring others.

The best part is when this all comes together, you will know you've played a part in something that makes a difference in others’ lives.

Thank you for your support!
Happy Trails,
Kara Richardson Whitely

I thought you would like to see some clips of me in the news. My story has been featured in Self, Redbook and American Hiker magazines and numerous television, radio and online outlets.... 

NJN News

Video - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Self Magazine, "Cheating on My Husband With Food"


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • You selected
    $1 reward

    7 backers

    It took a team of 40 porters and guides to get our team of six women up the mountain. Each one of you Big Fat Mountain supporters play an amazing role in bringing this project to reality. We will keep you up-to-date with an exclusive email list, which will include priority offers for Big Fat Mountain screenings and events.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $25 reward

    19 backers

    You are the foundation of this project. Your generous contribution will be recognized as a supporter on and you will be added to our exclusive email list with priority offers for Big Fat Mountain screenings and events.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $50 reward

    18 backers

    I'll never forget the feeling of reaching the top of Camel's Hump after it left me winded and defeated years before. A $50 or more contribution truly helps us over the hump. I will send you signed Big Fat Mountain DVD, plus you will receive the previous rewards.Thank you!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $100 reward

    18 backers

    It takes courage to get out on the trail when people expect you to fail. Your generous contribution will help us surge ahead. You will be rewarded with your name in film credits as a supporter, two tickets to the Big Fat Mountain New Jersey premiere event, plus all previous rewards.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $100 reward

    5 backers

    ***Just added *** Premiere events or Special Screenings in Chicago and Washington, DC tentatively scheduled for January 2013 .
    All the same rewards of the other $100 or more level, but you have your choice of premiere events!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $500 reward

    2 backers

    There is such anticipation and excitement at Kibo Huts, as we await the final push to the summit. I'm thrilled that you will join us with such a generous contribution! You will be rewarded with four VIP tickets to the New Jersey premiere event, exclusive access to Big Fat Mountain film festival parties, plus all previous rewards!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $1,000 reward

    1 backer

    When you reach Gilman's Point or Uhuru Peak you get a certificate for your effort. I will honor you allowing me to get this far with Associate Producer credits or your business mentioned in the credits. Plus, of course, all of the other rewards -- the VIP Big Fat Mountain premiere tickets, exclusive film festival party access and a DVD when it is released and updates along the way. Thank you!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $5,000 reward

    0 backers

    You have allowed us to reach our dreams, to make this project happen. For that, I will arrange a hike and healthy picnic for you and your family/friends or come to your company to do an inspirational speaking engagement program. (Travel costs must be provided outside of NYC and NJ). Plus, of course, you get all previous rewards -- the associate producer credit, VIP Big Fat Mountain premiere tickets, exclusive film festival party access and a DVD when it is released and updates along the way. Thank you!.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $10,000 reward

    0 backers

    The most beautiful thing I've seen is on summit night when the stars are above you, beside you and below you. That's what this level of support is to Big Fat Mountain. I will reward this true partnership with Executive Producer credits (or acknowledge sponsorship from your company) in the opening credits plus all previous rewards -- the healthy hike or corporate speaking engagement, VIP Big Fat Mountain premiere tickets, exclusive film festival party access, a DVD when it is released and updates along the way. Thank you with all my heart!

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (30 days)