A Toronto climber has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in 20,000 steps, nearly all of them on his hands. With no legs and endless grit, 31-year-old Spencer West raised over $500,000 for Free the Children’s Redefine Possible initiative. The money will support clean-water projects in East Africa.
West has redefined what is possible since birth, when he was diagnosed with sacral agenesis. The rare genetic disorder causes abnormalities in the lower spine. At age five doctors amputated both of his legs below the pelvis. Here’s how West describes their prognosis in a video for Free the Children:
They said I would never walk, that I wouldn’t be a functioning member of society, that the odds would always be against me. But I refused to listen then, and I refuse to listen now.
In an interview with Colin Perkel for Canadian Press, West said a meeting with an 8-year-old Kenyan girl inspired him to train for the grueling climb. She told him “she didn’t know white people could lose their legs.” He added:
That one phrase changed the entire course of my life and helped me recognize how I could use my story to inspire people to overcome obstacles.
Severe drought in East Africa prompted West and his best friends, David Johnson and Alex Meers, to launch the “Redefine Possible” campaign. Their goal was to raise $750,000 for water projects.
Next: Success and Impact
Photos from Spencer West's Facebook page
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