May 8, 2011
My good friend Douglas Sidialo was recently interviewed by Lisa Mullins for PRI's The World radio broadcast. It's a very powerful piece and well worth the listen. In 1998, Douglas was blinded by flying shards of glass during the embassy bombing in Kenya that was ordered by Osama Bin Laden. While that terrible tragedy changed his life, Douglas used it as fuel for greatness.
In 2002, Douglas joined World TEAM Sports on the first Face of America ride from Ground Zero to the Pentagon. Over 1,200 people took on the 278-mile challenge to honor the victims of terrorism.
I had the great pleasure of climbing to the "Roof of Africa" with Douglas in 2005. We had corresponded a few times when he told me his dream was to climb Kilimanjaro someday as a way to spread a message of peace throughout the world. I was so excited by this worthy goal that I immediately set about planning an expedition. It proved to be a very difficult challenge but we succeeded and he became the first blind African to stand on the summit of the highest peak on the continent.
Only two years later, Douglas became the first blind athlete to complete the Tour d'Afrique, a 7,500 mile bike expedition from Cairo to Cape Town. Today he works as a motivational speaker and continues to spread his message of peace and healing.