September 15, 2011
I’m not the only blind guy doing over-the-top adventures. This spring, my friend Mike Armstrong hiked the entire 782-mile length of the rugged Arizona Trail, which runs from the Mexico to Utah borders, in 45 days. In the process, Mike raised $22,000 for the Foundation for Blind Children (www.seeitourway.org), which has the mission to show people that blindness is a diagnosis, not a handicap.
Mike lost his vision when he was 26 years old due to a disease that made it easy for his retinas to tear. But that hasn’t slowed him down. Now 41 years old, he owns and is the head instructor of the Blind Tiger Martial Arts Academy in Phoenix, AZ and has a fifth degree Black Belt in Kyokushin Karate, a second degree Black Belt in Aiki Jujitsu, and a first degree Black Belt in Goshin Do (traditional Samurai Sword system). He is also a talented drummer.
In 2009, Mike was part of a team of 8 blind people that climbed Kilimanjaro and was led by my good friend Kevin Cherilla, who was our base camp manager on Everest and then went on to climb Everest himself. Since that climb, Mike competed against me in last year’s Adventure TEAM Challenge, which is where I first met him. And he completed the grueling 48-mile Rim to Rim to Rim that crosses the Grand Canyon back and forth.
The Arizona Trail project was a major undertaking that involved a team of ten guides and four people helping with logistics. Due to a leg injury that sidelined him for a bit, the entire hike start to finish took 57 days.
Next up for Mike is a coast-to-coast ride across America on a tandem, a climb up Mt. Whitney, and some Ironman triathlons. You can follow Mike’s exploits at http://blindmotivation.com