Ascend is Doing Great Things. Here’s Why It Matters.

Recently, Appian had the pleasure of hosting Marina LeGree, Founder & Executive Director of Ascend Athletics, for an hour long informational session filled with eye-opening and passionate stories of the non-profit’s accomplishments.

Marina grew up in Washington State, and was one of three girls in the family. One key factor that has stuck with Marina throughout the years was this piece advice from her dad:

“Whatever it is you want to do, do it.”

Well, Marina did just that.

She founded Ascend, an entirely volunteer run organization, back in September 2013 with the sole purpose to encourage young adults in countries in conflict through athletic achievement to a high degree…literally (pun intended). Ascends mission is, “to prepare an all-female, all-Afghan team to climb Afghanistan’s highest mountain.

The creation of Ascend was certainly no piece of cake, but Marina and her team see the value of such an organization. It’s not safe (Marina’s words), and both parents and teachers must be on board, otherwise the girls are unable to participate. Many of the girls find the program by word of mouth, or through relatives.

The Afghan program is made up of 5 specific components:

  • Physical Fitness
    • Many of the girls participate in volleyball and other extracurricular activities to stay physically fit for their big climb.
  • Service
    • The girls are required to volunteer at least 2 days/ week.
    • Marina shared that many of the girls volunteer at an animal shelter close by.
  • Psycho-Social Well Being
    • Girls work with a psychologist once a week.
  • Leadership
    • They often discuss and talk about role models, as many Afghan leaders are corrupt.
  • Mountaineering
    • Test and push each other while climbing some of the highest mountains in the world.

The vision is to show young women that they can run their own team and be independent.

The goal is to spread this concept to another country and help other women in conflicted areas.

The hurdles that prevent or make this non-profits mission difficult is the government being strenuous to work with.

Marina and her team are constantly looking for full-time volunteers and mainly receive funding through donations. If you would like to learn more, donate gear, or even get involved on a project please visit Thank you Marina and team for coming and sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration to all and through Ascend we see the phenomenal impact you are making in young women’s lives everywhere.

Tricia Goose