The Guinness Book of World Records might soon add two giants on its lists of record breakers. Chris Waddell pedaled and Tajiri Mungaya hobbled recently to the top of the snow caped Kilimanjaro, the highest mount in Africa, becoming the first paraplegic and amputee respectively to reach the 5,895 meter summit unassisted. Chris Waddell broke the record by summiting Kilimanjaro on a one-of-a-kind, 4-wheel handcycle propelled entirely by arm power. The unique handcycle steers 2 ways, via traditional hand bars and through a special pedal that sits under the chest. The One-Off provides impressive traction and control with wheels capable of maneuvering over foot-tall obstacles. Typical features such as logs and large rocks proved to be threatening obstacles for Waddell but he fought them heroically. The vehicle looks like a lunar Rover used by astronauts on their mission to the moon only that it is engineless and therefore does not fly. It is propelled by manpower. ‘Yes it looks like the moon roving car. At Uhuru Peak, the highest point on the roof of Africa, I felt like on the moon surface,’ Chris told a press conference in Arusha.
The 41-year-old former ski champion for Middlebury College, whose racing career came to an abrupt turn after he broke his back while skiing when he was 20-year-old, took eight days to ascend and descend the highest free-sanding mountain on earth. In the expedition was Tajiri Mungaya, the 39-year-old Tanzanian who lost one of his legs in 2006 while trekking Kilimanjaro as a porter. ‘On January 4, 2006 rock-falling caused a terrible landslide which killed three tourists. I survived but lost my leg and therefore bringing to a sudden end my career as mountaineering porter,’ he said. Tajiri hopped beside Chris using an artificial led fixed onto him in Nairobi, Kenyan capital, with Waddell footing the US$ 3,000 bill, appealed to the Tanzanian National Parks, the Government agency responsible for the management parks like Kilimanjaro National Park in which Mount Kilimanjaro is located in North-East Tanzania, to add special routes for the disabled people to attempt climbing the magnificent mountain.
Waddell has dedicated his life to puncturing the conventional wisdom of what a paraplegic and an amputee can and cannot do. Through his work with the Paralympics, he has proven that being a ‘para’ does not mean living a disabled life. ‘I hope my climb will make us see some of the 21+ million disabled people in the world in a whole new way,’ he said in a statement released by Panic Button Media, a public relations firm that is representing him. ‘We want to help disabled people worldwide to be seen for who they are,’ the ever smiling American said. Chris Waddell was a young skier at Middlebury College in 1988 when a skiing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. He was determined to get back on slopes. He started skiing on a monoski about a year later. Roughly two years later he was named to the US Disabled Ski Team. That is no small triumph. He soon surprised the world by becoming the most decorated male skier in Paralympic history.
He won twelve medals over four games. He spent over a decade on the US Disabled Ski Team. Waddell worked with Paralympics and International Paralympic Committee. A naturally born orator Waddell speaks to the resilience of the human condition, with topics ranging from leadership to adversity to quality of life. Outside Magazine, Skiing, Ski, National Geographic Explorer are some of numerous publications that has featured Waddell. People Magazine has named him one of ‘The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World.’ It is no joke, Chris, as his photos testifies, is quiet handsome. The attractive man also appeared on Dateline and Oprah.Now retired from skiing, Chris spends his time trying to bring awareness to those who are disabled. He created The One Revolution Foundation to help others who are in need of wheelchairs and handcycles. The organization makes handcycle donations throughout the world and donates handcycles and wheelchairs to Tanzanians in need.
One-Revolution is supported by Easton Sports Development Foundation, Smith Opties, Golite, Gu, Marmot for Life, Thule Sweden, Wasatch Adaptive Sports, Bontrager, International Satellite Services Inc., Juice Plus Whole Food Nutrition, Trifecta Wines, Eco-Usable, Beyond Coastal Sun Care and Keen. Other donors are Rastar, Love this Life, Eureka Mesquite, Sport Adventures, Athletes for Hope, National Ability Center, Ability Plus Inc., Disabled Sports USA, IPC, One-Off Handcycles and The Canyons Park City of Utah in the United States.The trip was led by Godson Sekeyan, Executive Director of East African Voyage Ltd, which specializes on climbing mounts Kilimanjaro, Kenya, Mount Ruwenzori in Uganda, the Virungas in Rwanda and Meru in Tanzania as well as Safari to famous parks. He says 68 porters from African Environments supported the triumphant climb. The trekking expedition was filmed by Amanda Stoddard, Producer and Director of Falling Tree Entertainment, accompanied by a small but efficient film crew. The world should, therefore, expect an obvious Oscar Award wining documentary film.MORE: