Photo Credit: UNLV
If you ever have a chance to hear Erik Weihenmayer speak, DON’T MISS IT!
I have met Erik on several occasions. He is THE MOST INSPIRING, REMARKABLE, AMAZING individual I have ever known. He has reached the summit of Mt. Everest. He has climbed the tallest mountains of all seven continents. Recently, he solo kayaked the rapids of the Grand Canyon. Everyone would agree that these are remarkable accomplishments, even if they didn’t know that Erik is BLIND!!!!
After Eric had returned from the top of the world’s highest peak in the spring of 2001, his expedition leader said to him “Don’t make Everest the greatest thing you ever do”. In the seventeen years since, he has lived up to this call. He married, started a family, which includes a boy adopted from Nepal, pursued numerous new adventures and challenges, and, perhaps most significantly, started NO BARRIERS, USA to inspire and assist others to overcome adversity and setbacks in their own lives. He has helped soldiers who have sustained debilitating injuries, taught and led blind children in outdoor expeditions all over the world, and continued to set an example by seeking out new world to conquer, no matter what obstacles existed.
When the rare disease which he inherited at birth eventually caused him to become completely blind at age 15, Erik was devasted and consumed by fear, as anyone would be. Two years later, his mother was killed in a car accident. Sustained by his two brothers and his father Ed, he did not give in to misfortune. He became “better, not bitter”. He became captain of his high school wrestling team, graduated from Boston College, and began teaching and coaching at Phoenix Country Day School in Arizona before pursuing his passion.
As Erik would say in one of his presentations, we are called to be alchemists, those who create gold from ordinary metal. Our disabilities can be assets rather than adversity. His message is to all, not only those who endure physical pain but those who suffer emotional loss and heartache. There is a power in each of us to overcome whatever obstacles we face. Lord forgive me when I whine; I have two eyes, the world is mine.