Paraplegic athlete Chris Waddell is in the process of doing something spectacular. He is attempting to become the first person to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro without the use of his legs, and as of this writing he is camped at 18,000 feet, and preparing for the final push up to the summit.
Back in 1988, Waddell suffered a terrible skiing accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. But he was determined to get back on the slopes, and less than a year later he did, using a monoski to return to his passion. Two years later he was named to the U.S. Disabled Ski team, and he has since gone on to win 12 medals over four Paralympic games, making him the most decorated male skier in the event’s history.
Not content to just ski down the mountains however, Chris wants to climb them as well. To do so, he has devised a specially designed hand cart lovingly called the Bomba, which can maneuver over large obstacles while Waddell uses his arms to “pedal” it up hill. The Bomba is a unique, one of a kind, vehicle built to put Chris on top of Kilimanjaro, which at 19,340 feet, is the tallest mountain in Africa.
Chris is hoping that, through his climb, he can remind the world of all the amazing things that the disabled are capable of. He hopes to, once again, demonstrate that just because someone is “para” that it doesn’t mean that they have to lead a disabled life, and he is sending that message not only to those of us who can walk, but to the 21 million paraplegics in the world as well.
If everything goes as planned, Waddell and his team should reach the summit of Kilimanjaro sometime today. Keep an eye on his blog for updates from the summit. That last 1300 feet will be incredibly challenging for him, with a difficult route to the top, mixed with some snow, and the effects of altitude, but Chris has proven time and again that he can defy the odds when his goal is in sight.
Good luck today Chris!