Erik Weihenmayer is quite possibly the most fearless man alive. Blind from the age of 13, you might expect Erik to have been somewhat limited by his disability. Not so. In fact, Erik has largely disregarded his blindness, and spent his life overcoming seemingly impossible challenges.

A former middle school teacher and wrestling coach, Weihenmayer has trained to become an accomplished mountain climber, acrobatic skydiver, long-distance biker, paraglider, marathon runner, skier, author, motivational speaker and devoted father of two kids who has never allowed his blindness to interfere with his passion for adventure and a fulfilling life.

He is also active in various civic causes. After together climbing Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro, in 2005 with friends, Weihenmayer and P&G Philippines president James Lafferty began the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust to help blind kids in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

He has also carried the Olympic Torch for both the summer and winter games, and he told The Philippine STAR that he is excited that the 2008 Olympics will be held in Beijing. He added that he disagrees with people who try “to mix politics with sporting events like the Olympics, which should bring peoples together instead of separating us.”

His kickass expedition has been covered in his excellent book ‘Touch the Top of The World’.

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Erik’s pioneering Everest mission is also the subject of the multi-award-winning documentary,Farther than the Eye Can See. The documentary was ranked in the top twenty adventure films of all time by Men’s Journal.

It brought home first prize at 19 film festivals and was nominated for two Emmy’s, the film beautifully captures the emotion, humor and drama of Erik’s historic ascent as well as his team’s three other remarkable ‘firsts’: the first American father/son team to summit, the oldest man to summit, and the most people from one team to reach the top of Everest in a single day. Through screenings, the film has raised over $600,000 for charitable organizations.

Erik has completed all of the remaining Seven Summits – the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, including Antarctica’s Mount Vinson. He has also led mountaineering expeditions for wounded war veterans and blind Tibetan youths.

It is amazing that a blind person has managed to achieve things most of us sighted people haven’t even imagined doing. His love of sports, and his intense desire to shatter people’s misconceptions about what blind people can do — these have motivated him through long and arduous climbs to the world’s highest peaks. If a disabled person like him can do so much with less, be optimistic and dream big, why shouldn’t we also?

Throughout the ages, there are ordinary men and women like Erik Weihenmayer who are imbued with extraordinary guts and vision.

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They are not superheroes, but regular flesh-and-blood folks; they have endured lots of hardships, cruel odds and adversities, but they never give up. Like them, we should dare to dream. Like them, we should climb our own mountains and conquer our fears!

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