In my English class we were asked to define a hero, we came up with a hero is someone who leads, fulfills needs, and does good deeds. Then, were asked to think of our own hero, I at the time did not think that I had a hero. I searched though my thoughts, and went though everyone from the classic supper heroes to family members, and so forth. I finally came to a man of the name Erik Weihenmayer.
Who is Erik Weihenmayer?
Erik is a blind man who has worked to change people’s perception of the blind abilities. “People’s perception or our limitations are more damaging than those limitations themselves.” Erik was born with retinoscheses, a rare genetic condition that gradually causes the retina to deteriorate. He had partial sight through much of his childhood but was totally blind by the age of thirteen. Yet, he was determined to rise above his disability. He attended a normal high school, Weston High School. Though his high school experience he picked up wrestling, and right when things started to looking up for the best, his life took another tragic turn he lost his mother in a car accident. In the summer of his senior year he attended the Carroll Center for the Blind for a month long camp, it was there where he picked up rock climbing, and learned how to accept his disability. He graduated in 1987, and was accepted to Boston College, where he maintained a 3.1 GPA, a double major, was on the wrestling team, was a writer of articles for BC’s literary magazine, got certified in scuba diving, and was an officer of the BC’s Freshman Assistance Program. After graduating from college, he completed a masters program in education. After attending many job fairs, where he had many interviews but few would have given him teaching job dew to his disability. However he was offered a job at Phoenix Country Day School as an English and math teacher. Erik is an accomplished writer, his book is entitled, Touch the Top of the World, in which he talks his struggle to push past the limits placed on him by his disability, speaks of those who helped him break through the barriers of blindness.
Erik is also world-class athlete; skydiver, long distance biker and marathon runner, skier, mountaineer, ice climber, and rock climber.
He was the first blind man ever to climb to the top of the world (Everest). And on September 5, 2002, when he stood on top of Mt. Kosciusko in Australia, Erik completed his 7-year quest to climb the Seven Summits - the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, joining only 100 mountaineers who have accomplished that feat. At age 33, he was also one of the youngest. Today he lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter.
Why is this man my hero?
It is because Erik and I have something in common, a similar disability. Like Erik I to was blessed at birth with a degenerative eye condition mine is called Keratoconus, which is a rare genetic condition that gradually causes my corneas to deteriorate. I was diagnosed with this condition in my first year of high school. You may not think that it’s significant, but having a disease such as this breaks your spirit, you lose a sense of self that is very difficult to regain. In the process of trying to regain that sense of self, I have read many books but his book, Touch the Top of the World by far was the one that stood out the most to me, he has experienced much of what I have. I look at his story as kind of a guide to mine own. Seeing his success and then looking at what I have, has help me decide that I need to quickly get my act together and move on before it is too late, and I have lost what I had (my sight). For the rest of my life, i will owe my success to him. If it was not for his example i would still be searching for myself.