Thursday, March 14th, 2013
Many people consider YouTube an endless source of entertainment. I enjoy a good Harlem Shake video as much as the next user, but for me and many parents of kids with special needs, YouTube is also inspiration central. My latest find: Steve Wampler speaking at a TED Conference. That’s him above seated in the chair hanging upside down El Capitan, a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park that’s twice the height of the Empire State Building.
Wampler was born with severe cerebral palsy. His parents, he said, treated him the same way they did his four siblings. He had a life-changing moment when they sent him to a wilderness camp at age 9. In 2002 he formed The Wampler Foundation, a nonprofit that is dedicated to providing camp and outdoor education programs for youth with physical disabilities.
A couple of years ago, Wampler set his sights on El Capitan, one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers. He trained five hours a day for a year and a half. And then he climbed that mountain in six days with a partner, moving two to six inches at a time and doing some 20,000 pull-ups. I know of few people with “typical” abilities who could have accomplished this feat, which takes not just physical strength but the extreme psychological kind, too.
Since his climb, Wampler has received thousands and thousands of emails from kids with disabilities saying “Now I know I can do it. I know I can live a full life, and basically nothing can stop me.”
Watch his talk and you’ll believe, more than ever, than nothing can stop your child.
Image: Screen grab, TedX Talks