Waddell Summit Update, Late 9/21

(Panic Button Media)
Chris Waddell was the subject of a recent CBS Evening News story. He's attempting to become the first paraplegic to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. His blog below was submitted late Sept. 21, 2009.

So it's finally happening.

We arrived today after 29 hours of traveling. Two stops, fairly easy. I'm excited, nervous and my world has shrunk from grand dreams to those elements essential to traveling to Africa, reaching the 19,340-foot summit, documenting it and donating wheelchairs and a handcycle.

It feels strange when months of preparation and dreams boil down to one moment or at least one finite period of time that holds the key for the future. Kilimanjaro is the linchpin. After two years of work, this is the beginning, or hopefully the beginning.

Each night, the magnitude of that thought has yanked me from sleep. My chest tightens as I consider the altitude. All of my old demons, worries and fears want their due. Facing those insecurities might be as good reasons as any to climb the mountain.

Waddell's Summit Update 9/21
See Karen Brown's profile of Chris Waddell
Read Karen Brown's Blog

As an organization, we've set goals to change the landscape for people with disabilities, and to give opportunities to people who don't have many, but there's also a personal journey for me that I've had difficulty articulating.

During the lead up to the climb, I've tried to drop my shield when telling the story - something that makes me feel more vulnerable yet honest too. In the past, I had hidden behind the persona that I'd created by leaving the hospital for Middlebury two months after my accident and by winning a fair number of races during my career.

While I enjoyed the persona of overcoming all odds, it's not entirely true. This project has been a struggle physically, emotionally, financially, and in almost every other way. I don't like to be vulnerable. I'd love to know that I've prepared in such a way that nothing can derail me. I don't. I think we have a really good shot, but this journey about achieving a level of honesty that let's me enjoy the moment. I don't want to hide behind some persona - my mountain is to try not to.

Please follow us as we climb. We start our ascent on September 24th and will hopefully summit on the 28th. We should be back down on the 30th .

We really appreciate all of your support. It will be heartening to know that you are on our side when it's cold and dark on the mountain - actually it's heartening when it's warm and sunny before I leave.