After training for two years and then pedaling his custom-designed, four-wheeled handcycle for seven long days, Chris Waddell achieved his goal. On September 30th, he made it to the top of Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, as the first parapalegic in history. “The climb is only part of this incredible journey,” says Waddell. “We want to help disabled people around the world be seen for who they are and to show what can be achieved.”
An arduous journey indeed, but Waddell’s determination propelled him forward even when faced with a tough decision. 2000 feet from the summit a massive field of boulders barricaded Waddell from moving to the top. Waddell had to be carried for a mere 100 feet over the field, meaning he wouldn’t make the climb entirely on his own. “There was that sense of heartbreak and that sense of a little bit of defeat at that point,” he said. “But I think the idea was to make it to the top, and that sometimes you have to compromise a little bit.”
Anyone who traveled up the mountain with Waddell or watched from afar would hardly call this decision a defeat, as Waddell’s incredible tenacity and strength from within allowed him to reach his goal and show the world that the word “disabled” can be a misconstrued label.
In addition to Waddell’s achievement, a former African porter, Tajiri, who had lost his leg in a rock slide, trekked up Kili with the group, thanks to a $3000 prosthetic leg donated by Waddell’s organization One-Revolution and the Northstar Foundation. He summitted as well and now holds the title of the first amputee to reach Uhuru Peak! Happy for his new friend, Waddell declared, “I suspect that Tajiri might get a chance to do far more than he would have in his previous life.” In addition to helping Tajiri, One-Revolution will be donating custom wheelchairs and handcycles to disabled people in Tanzania.
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