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.

Kyle Coon's Ascent

I’ve had the privilege of knowing lots of “climbers” over the years. One of them is Kyle Coon who I met when he was just seven years old. Kyle and his father, Steve, first met my dad, Ed, and me at an event I was speaking at in Jacksonville, Florida. After my presentation, Kyle seemed almost in shock. His reaction on that day still fills my father and me with emotion.

Climb on Binning Family Foundation!

Last week, the Touch the Top Team and I spent a morning climbing with some local youth from the Redirection Center in Littleton, Colorado,  which helps kids work through some of the challenges they face, both from circumstance and choices.

"High Ground" Shown at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida

Last Friday, our film High Ground, highlighting the struggles of injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as they re-enter a civilian world, was shown at USCENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) in Tampa.  Major General Michael Garrett presided over our visit. We learned such a screening was unprecedented in USCENTCOM history, a huge honor for us all.

NEVI SKI FESTIVAL 2014

Interested in blind skiing? A couple of weeks ago, my guide Jeff and I taught a clinic for guides of the blind at Sugarloaf, Maine. I always love being a guinea pig, so check out some of the guides testing their new skills guiding me! Meet my new friend Noah Carver!  It was fun getting to teach a clinic for some guides from Maine Adaptive Sports and we got to ski with a few of the blind participants.

No Barriers USA Pledge Completion

Over the past year and a half, I have been striving to complete another summit in my life, a $1 million pledge to No Barriers USA. One of the great blessings of my life has been roping up with others who share the same vision, and I thank them all for helping me to fulfill my pledge. I share this to remind all of us to never stop climbing and to never forget, what’s inside of us is stronger than what’s in our way.

Echo Location Part 2: Back On the Saddle

Lesson 1: Follow the Leader The second part of my Flash Sonar training with Daniel Kish focused on something I haven’t done in over thirty years, riding a single bike. My team, Daniel, and I took to the park and decided to give it a shot.

Echo Location Part 1: Batman in Training

I love creating systems which break new ground. Lucky for me, an amazing sensory system for navigating as a blind person already exists. It's essentially what bats do, a kind of echo location, mastered by the guru, Daniel Kish. Flash Sonar is the name Daniel coined, in which you make sharp clicks with your tongue and listen to how the sound echoes off objects to figure out their size, shape, and distance. Most blind people have learned to do this to some degree, but it’s passive and not developed with a conscious process.

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