Fifteen-year-old Elisha "Eli" Reimer has become the first person with Down syndrome to climb Mount Everest. Eli reached Everest's base camp in Nepal in mid-March after 10 days of hiking. The trek was a total of 70 miles.
"One of the reasons that this trek really made sense is because living with a disability, that experience mirrors climibing mountains," Justin Reimer, Eli's father and fellow climber, told CBSNews.com. "That imagery is really meaningful in the midst of all of this."
Down syndrome, also called Trisomy 21, occurs when a person has an extra copy or piece of chromosome number 21.
A typically developing person has 46 chromosome, 23 pairs made from chromosome from each parent. For people with Down syndrome, they received a total of 24 instead of 23 chromosome from one of their parents so they have 47 chromosomes in each of their cells instead of 46.
Down syndrome causes physical and intellectual disabilities, including mild-to-moderate range IQ, language difficulties and physical coordination problems. The child may also have heart defects, stomach problems, Celiac disease, dementia, hearing problems, eye problems, thyroid problems and skeletal problems.
Six thousand children -- about 1 of every 691 babies -- born in the U.S. have Down syndrome, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While there is no known way to prevent Down syndrome, special programs can help people with the condition improve their mental and physical abilities.
The likelihood that an egg will contain an extra copy of chromosome 21 increases significantly as a woman ages, therefore older women are much more likely than younger women to give birth to an infant with Down syndrome, according to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.
The Elisha Foundation works on helping individuals in churches and other groups understand the needs of the disabled in their communities. The foundation also provides workshops and family retreats for parents who have disabled children. In addition, the foundation offers international outreach programs to help people outside the U.S.
Justin said the idea of climbing to Mount Everest's base camp came from a family friend who wanted to help out with The Elisha Foundation. He was an avid treker, and he decided he wanted to climb to base camp to raise money for a good cause.
On the official website for the Mount Everest trek, The Elisha Foundation wrote it hoped through the hike that the group would be able to show that "those with disabilities have been created in the image of God, just as those without."
The idea of taking someone with Down syndrome and others with disabilities to highlight their unique abilities to overcome challenges began to float around.
"Eli expressed interest so we got him checked him checked out medically," Justin explained. "He
Justin added that as a family they loved outdoors activities, and him and his wife and their five kids enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing together.
"Eli in particular likes basketball and football," his dad pointed out.
Though Justin was expecting a couple of people to express some concerns about Eli doing the trip because of his condition, everyone was pretty encouraging.
"The majority of the people who knew about the trek knew us and knew Eli well," he explained. "It was still fun. There wasn't a lot of risk doing base camp."
The trek team was able to raise $100,000. The funds will go to The Elisha Foundation, so it can expand its programs that help families affected by disabilities.
"There currently are no plans for another trip to reach the peak of Mount Everest, but Eli has other projects planned. He's heading to Ukraine with the Elisha Foundation to help work with special needs orphans."