Day #16: Monday, September 22, 2014-Post Lava Falls & Skyler's No Barriers Pledge

Day #16: Monday, September 22, 2014-Post Lava Falls We heard from the team this morning via text. They camped out below Lava Falls, relieved to have this section of the river behind them. The resting spot is called Tequila Beach. Go figure. Lava presented the team with some unexpected drama that can only be described as chaotic success. Michael Brown, our film director, has assured us of some good entertainment as he works to tell this story on film. Meanwhile, Skyler reports, “The last week or so has been very walled in, so dispatches have been guerrilla operations.

Grand Canyon Expedition 2014 Launch!

September 7, 2014 Today, I'm launching on a long awaited adventure, to solo kayak the Grand Canyon, 21 days, 277 miles from Lee's Ferry to Pierce Ferry. Joining me is Navy veteran Lonnie Bedwell, an accomplished kayaker, who like me is also blind. Together, the two of us hope to make a powerful and authentic statement about living a No Barriers Life and the belief that this is possible for each of us.

Another Personal Everest

Some of you probably remember my post a few months ago about Derek Campbell. On November, 2013, he had a major snowboarding accident at a ski resort in Colorado that caused a traumatic brain injury resulting in a stroke. A month after the accident, his dad, Mark, was told by doctors to start thinking about making end-of-life decisions. However, Derek's heart and soul had a different plan.

Teachers Climb Too

Teachers are often the light that help shape children’s lives as they grow into adults. Earlier this year, I was blessed to be a part of an inspiring teacher’s story.  Clare La Pier reached out to me through my blog shortly after reading my memoir. She’s taken on a lot of adversity in her own life and has used it as fuel to push herself forward, as well as to push her students toward their own summits. Recently, she took the No Barriers Pledge, and here’s an excerpt from her powerful blog comment:

The Salmon River with the Family

To kick off the summer, my family and I descended a six-day stretch of the Salmon River through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area in Idaho. The family, including my brother Eddi and his two older kids - Edwin and Brooklyn,  voted it the best river trip ever. The Main Fork of the Salmon is a wide, friendly river with big wave trains and only a few muncher holes to avoid.

Tim Conners, Continuing to Climb

My friend Tim Conners and his mom Betsy have just taken a huge step in their lives. Tim was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 15 years old. After going through chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant that resulted in a complication that made him blind, Tim, needless to say, has been through the ringer. However, Tim is a “climber".  I originally met Tim when I was contacted by the Make a Wish Foundation a few years ago. After speaking with Tim, my teammate Skyler and I brainstormed with him and his mom and decided to do something fun but also adventurous together.

No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition 2014

Two blind guys are going to take on kayaking the Grand Canyon in September 2014. As Lonnie Bedwell and I paddle 277 miles through the Grand Canyon, we hope to encourage 1 million people to take the No Barriers Pledge, a pledge that says, What's within me is stronger than what’s in my way. We hope our big challenge will push others to pick a significant barrier holding them back, attack it, and shatter it into a million pieces. I first learned about Lonnie when my team and I were doing a training trip on the Colorado River.

Sending Off Our Heroes

Two weeks ago, my high school friend and now Army Lieutenant Colonel, Scott Fitzgerald, invited me to speak at Lewis/McChord Army/Air Force Base to a battalion of soldiers, most of them soon deploying to Afghanistan. The base is in DuPont, Washington, near Seattle, so it was surprising to have sun shining when my teammate Tanner, my guide dog Yuri, and I landed and took our first steps out of the airport. We felt it was a good omen for such an important day. Before arriving at the base, we fueled up in true athlete fashion with crispy chicken sandwiches and fries from Wendy’s.

Flower Arrangement of the Year

This may be a little unusual for one of my blogs,  but look carefully at the flower arrangement designed by Patricia Taira of Mary’s Flowers and Gifts in Florence SC, to beautify an event I participated in this week for McLeod Health, a non-profit faith-based healthcare organization which services northern South Carolina.  The two boots,  the climbing rope and ice tool, buried amidst gorgeous flowers,  wins my designation for the Flower Arrangement of the Year. It dramatically reinforced the "reaching" theme of my presentation.

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