Disability, Challenge,
and Discovery

With help from his friends, Mark Wellman (traveling piggyback) has been a pioneer in opening venues for people with disabilities.
Reprinted from PN March 2007

For some people, life is not about living within the accepted boundaries of society—but about pushing the limits.

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Erik Weihenmayer has climbed the Seven Summits—the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. He lost his vision at age 13 but continues to seek out new adventures.
As long as man has inhabited the planet, he has sought to challenge himself and push his personal envelope. Yet, with each new challenge comes adversity. And from adversity, man has learned to adapt and grow. For the people behind an organization called No Barriers, life is a unique mix of adventure, challenge, and making the seemingly impossible into reality.

During winter 1982, a 17-year-old rock and ice climber named Hugh Herr became trapped in a blizzard while summiting New Hampshire's Mount Washington. Fighting for his life, Herr battled extreme cold and near whiteout conditions for three days before losing both legs to frostbite and tissue damage sustained from the prolonged exposure to the harsh conditions. Despite coming close to death on that New England mountaintop, Herr began dreaming of finding a way to return to his chosen sport.

Now, more than two decades later and with a doctorate in engineering, Herr is director of the Biomechatronics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge). He dedicates his life to designing biomedical devices for treating physical disability and advancing technologies that promise to accelerate the merging of body and machine. Along the way, he invented prosthetic devices that allowed him to climb once again and earned a reputation as one of the world's most innovative rock climbers—with or without a disability.

Find out more about how Herr, Mark Wellman, and Erik Weihenmayer came together for a 1997 climb that led to the formation of No Barriers USA, an organization that helps all people live full and active lives.


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Disability, Challenge,
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