This issue of Adventure Sports Journal had the inspiring story of Shawn Cheshire, an Army Vet and EMT. This is a free journal available in various places, my local bagel shop had it. In 2009 Shawn got a traumatic brain injury while treating a combative patient, and ended up going blind. This led her into severe depression. In her words “I had a choice to make, I could either choose to see the possibilities, make the possibilities, discover the possibilities, or I was going to kill myself”. Fortunately, she chose the former, and with help from the Veteran’s Administration Palo Alto Polytrauma Rehabilitation center, turned herself into a world-class adventure and endurance athlete. She has raced for Team USA in the Paralympics on a tandem bike and also runs competitively. Even more astonishingly, she has trained herself to ride solo on a bike, and has ridden across the US from Oregon to Virginia, as well as completing the off-road 2700-mile Tour Divide that follows the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico. I’ve read about doing the Tour Divide in various adventure books including Jill Horner’s Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide. It is a remarkable challenge for anyone. But completing it without sight approaches unfathomable.
Shawn’s latest plan is to become the first woman and only the second person without sight to climb Mt Everest. But she will continue on to climb Lhotse, thereby becoming the first blind person to do that back-to-back challenge. I have no doubt she will accomplish this goal.
Stories like this always make me reconsider any of my own limitations and feeble excuses for not being more active.