Leslie Drinan, 56, has always been dedicated to the Memphis community. This retired federal bank examiner has served on boards and committees for the organizations like the Memphis Zoo, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, LeBonheur Club, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, and Junior League of Memphis. When she’s not serving her community, she taking care of her three active kids or staying fit.

When COVID-19 hit Memphis, she recognized how hard it impacted many people. While social distancing prevents traditional fundraising and volunteer opportunities, she still found a way to help those in need.

Leslie partnered with Metropolitan Inter-Faith Organization (MIFA) to create Climb Against COVID. She climbed the summit of the 10 highest points in 10 different states in 19 days to raise money for food insecurity and housing instability.

“Memphis has been my home for over 30 years, and I am committed to making our city the best possible. COVID-19 created new problems and challenges. I was anxious to do my part to help underserved populations whose difficulties were amplified by the pandemic.”

Leslie is what you would call a “peak bagger” or “summit junkie” and her passion blossomed over 15 years ago when she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. She thrives off the intense motivation and focus that’s required to reach the top. Even with well-known peaks like Mt. Ranier and Grand Teton under her belt, she still throws in fun ones every now and then like when she went to the highest point in Napa during a girls’ trip.

Besides raising money, Leslie hopes Climb Against COVID inspires others to: 

  • Keep striving towards their goals—no matter how large or how small. Celebrate all successes.
  • Connect with and enjoy the great outdoors. “Mother nature has done the hard part.”
  • Use their gifts and skills, no matter the size, to make a difference in the lives of others.

At the time of writing, Climb Against COVID has already raised over $14,000. To read more about Leslie’s journey or make a contribution, visit Mifa.org/climbagainstcovid.

By Halle Griggs

Photograph by Tindall Stephens