Most of us haven’t experienced what Lilliana Labecki has experienced during our first sixteen years of life. Labecki, despite her young age, has already traveled to over 20 countries and all seven continents. She has skied in Antarctica, climbed Kilimanjaro, and went to the peaks of mountains in Peru and Nepal. Not only that; she has also been able to found her own nonprofit organization, and she has been able to spearhead six humanitarian expeditions to remote corners of the world. Amazing girl.
Since Lilliana was in kindergarten, she’d been telling her father, Mike Libecki—an accomplished mountaineer, expeditionist, and National Geographic Explorer—that she wanted to ski with penguins. Once Lilliana turned nine, Mike decided it was time they start training. Together, near their home in Utah, the father-daughter duo practiced backcountry skiing and avalanche and crevasse training. When she was 11, they went on a three-week ski expedition in Antarctica. “It’s a big deal,” says her father. “Sixty-mile-an-hour winds, crevasses, roped up, harness, real deal—not just dad-daughter, but she has to be a partner out there.”
[Labecki] found her passion on an expedition to Tanzania in 2015, when she was 12. After summiting Kilimanjaro, Lilliana, her dad, and the rest of the team worked on a give-back project for rural communities in Boma Ng’ombe, Tanzania. They helped build two schools, two churches, and an orphanage and provided shoes and socks, solar power, and computers. The experience was moving for Lilliana, and she wanted to do more.
And that is how her nonprofit organization called Joyineering was born.
When they returned stateside, Mike created a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, with Lilliana as the president, Mike as vice president, and Lilliana’s grandmother, aunt, and uncles as board members. The Joyineering Fund was born. “Joyineering is the act of bringing joy to our Mother Earth in all possible ways,” says Lilliana.
Since its founding, the fund has raised more than $500,000 for its projects. The organization raises money through donations, grant applications, and sponsorships from companies like Clif Bar, Dell Computers, GoalZero, and more.
The Libecki family, along with a crew from sponsoring companies, ventures to underserved, remote communities to provide basic necessities that much of the world takes for granted—shoes, socks, clean water, electricity, and education. “I know I may not be able to make the biggest difference in the world and change the world,” says Lilliana, “but I might be able to change their world.”
More of this heartwarming story over at Outside Online.
(Image Credit: Mike Libecki)