Hike duration: 3 hours
Temperature: -5 degrees Celsius
Word that captures the day:
This was it. The day that possible would be redefined. It was an almighty struggle, but...WE MADE IT!
We woke super-early (4 AM) to a light breakfast, and then prepared for our final ascent. Our goal, quite simply: to reach Uhuru Peak, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The moment the summit was within sight... it was incredible. We looked around - me, David and Alex - and realized that, after seven grueling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat and tears (and, let's face it, vomit) we had actually made it. We were at the top. The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage.
Then it sunk in. We made it. To the top of the mountain. The mountain that I promised to the world I would climb. The bleeding fingers and blisters were all worth it. I looked at the guys, my two buddies who dreamed up this crazy plan with me, and realized we actually finished what we started.
Then we had a really manly moment, collapsed into a heap, and shed a tear (or two, but don't tell my mom). There we were: me and my two best friends in the entire world, sitting together at the top of Africa, the continent that had taught us so much about compassion, humility and the power of we.
Totally fatigued, overcome by emotion, and completely and utterly fulfilled. The eyes of the world would be on us later. But for those few, magical moments, it was just us. We didn't need words to express the feeling. Instead it was that shared, knowing glance that Rick Hansen observed between us, that now kicked in to full effect.
Having reached the top has reinforced my belief in myself, and my belief in others. This triumph is for all the people around the world who made this journey possible for me. I have been humbled by your support right from the start. But it all just came flooding over me at the summit. I'm so moved to be able to share this incredible day with all of you.
There are so many people to thank. But, in particular, I keep thinking about the little girl I met while volunteering in a Kenyan village a few years ago. She had changed the course of my entire life with just a few simple, honest words. Looking at where my legs would have been she said, "I didn't know things like this happened to white people." I have often wondered if that little girl has been affected by the drought, the worst of its kind in East Africa in 60 years. This was the very reason we launched the Redefine Possible campaign - to raise money for clean-water programming for the East African communities affected by drought. I still don't know how she and her family fared. But I do know that, as of today, I've done something to repay her.
And if I met her again, I'd tell her that things do happen, good and bad, to all of us. But what defines us is not what we look like, the colour of our skin, or how many limbs we have. Not even close. It's who we are inside, and what we choose to do with the time we are fortunate enough to have on earth.
Today I reached the top of the tallest free-standing mountain in Africa by, for the most part, walking on my hands. And I did it with my best friends. I will live in this moment again and again for the rest of my life. And if I ever second-guess what's possible, that doubt will be obliterated.
What is possible for me has now been redefined. That is my hope for all of us.
You don't have to climb a mountain to redefine your possible. But thank you for climbing this one with me.
How will you redefine your possible?