“We made it. To the top of the mountain. The mountain that I promised to the world I would climb.”
Does climbing Africa’s tallest mountain seem difficult? Try it without legs. When Spencer West was five years old, a genetic disorder led to him losing both of his legs by amputation. Told that he would never be a functioning member of society, this inspiring man has gone above and beyond proving everyone wrong. A philanthropist, motivational speaker, and mountain climber, West’s journey has been remarkable.
Stronger than a Disability
Growing up without legs was an often painful existence for West, who encountered bullying and hateful words directed at him as a child. He had a passion for sports, yet knowing it would be difficult to join a team, he decided to “do the next best thing…be on the sidelines as a cheerleader”. He joined the number one cheerleading squad in his high school and excelled. After high school, he obtained a college degree, yet soon felt that something was missing from his life. A trip to Kenya in 2008 changed his perspective. He witnessed young girls trekking for three hours to obtain clean water, unable to go to school to obtain an education, and wanted to help. His experiences made him become an ambassador for others, an aid to those in need- undeterred by his own disability.
Climbing with a Purpose
One of West’s most esteemed accomplishments is his 2012 undertaking of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. With an elevation of 19,300 feet, this is a difficult task for people with four limbs. Each year, approximately 1,000 hikers must be evacuated and 10 die on this treacherous journey. This adventure was primarily completed on his hands, an astounding 80% of the climb. This week-long hike actually took a year of training before he and his friends set off on their meaningful quest. West was not climbing for the glory, but to raise money for hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who were affected by a horrible drought. His efforts raised nearly $750,000, enough to build boreholes that would finally offer clean water to countless Africans through Free the Children. His inspiring selflessness has bettered the lives of many.
Author, Speaker, Philanthropist
With an amazing story to tell, West authored an uplifting memoir, Standing Tall: My Journey. He also starred in Redefine Possible: The Story of Spencer West, a documentary on his life that debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. West was the keynote speaker at the YPO/WPO Global Summit in Istanbul. He speaks to numerous groups and dedicates a good portion of his time to help others. After his successful hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, the following year he completed a 187 mile journey from Edmonton to Calgary, Canada to raise more money for Free the Children. He is a speaker for ME to WE, a program that aims to end poverty with education. He has built schools and donated his time to improve the lives of others. And, each day he proves that anything is possible.
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