Here is an interview that I did with Elevations Outdoor, a great outdoors magazine here in Colorado.
Mike Savicki is a longtime friend and fellow board member of No Barriers. A 1990 Tufts graduate and currently one of the top wheelchair marathoners in the country, he recently received the 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award (DAA) from Tufts.
The DAA was established to recognize extraordinary contributions to sports by individuals with Tufts and/or New England identities. Savicki joins an outstanding list of DAA recipients. Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach was the first to receive the honor in 1987. New England Patriots and Revolution owner Robert Kraft was the 2003 honoree. Savicki is the 28th individual to receive the DAA.
“Mike Savicki’s story is an inspiration to each and every one of us,” said Director of Athletics Bill Gehling. “For everyone, the challenge of facing and overcoming adversity is a test that defines our character. Mike has passed that test with flying colors. He has not only overcome a life-changing disability, but he has gone on to redefine what many think of as possible. As a person, athlete, role model and advocate, Mike is exceptional. We are so proud to be able to honor a fellow Jumbo with this award.”
Prior to his injury, Savicki was a three-sport varsity athlete (soccer, basketball, track) out of Franklin High School in Massachusetts. He came to Tufts on a Navy ROTC scholarship and was a member of the varsity soccer team. While at Tufts, he ran the 1989 and 1990 Boston Marathons. Along with earning a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations, Savicki was recognized in NROTC as Outstanding Naval Aviation Candidate.
He was poised to serve the country, but his life would soon change dramatically. In November 1990 while in flight school to become an F-14 pilot, Savicki sustained a C6,7 spinal cord injury from a dive into the waters off Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Though his physical abilities had changed, he was not deterred. After spending eight months in rehabilitation, he entered Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and became only the second student in a wheelchair to earn an MBA degree in 1994. He delivered the commencement address.
Introduced to wheelchair sports while in rehabilitation, he pursued it like a champion.
“Sports were more fun than staying in bed feeling sorry for myself,” he lightheartedly remarks on his website, http://www.mikesavicki.com/.
Among the more than 55 marathons Savicki has finished are 18 Boston Marathons, and he is a five-time champion of the race including four straight from 2007-10. He is the only person to ever finish Boston both on foot and in a wheelchair.
A triathlete since 1999, he became the first complete quad to finish the 70.3-mile Beach to Battleship Half Ironman triathlon in his home state of North Carolina in 2009. He also played quad rugby for 13 years and spent three years as a national team member competing for a spot on the Athens 2004 Paralympic team. He has won 69 gold medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games from 1991-2011.
His ambitious professional life includes working as a management consultant, serving as an advocate for people with and without disabilities, and freelance writing among other ventures. He has also begun work on his first book. He is the Founder and Chief Thinker of Scratching Post Solutions, an innovative communication and creativity enterprise, and volunteers on the Board of Directors of the non-profit, No Barriers USA, a powerful community of modern day pioneers who use the experience of nature to promote innovation, education and assistive technologies that create transformative life experiences and inspire people with challenges to live full and active lives.
We will be taking our Paradox Rocks program on the road the weekend of October 28-30. We plan to get out and defy gravity together on some of the premier limestone climbing in the country. We’ll also be exploring the local biking and hiking trails and seeing what we can catch fishing the Arkansas.
We’re excited to have new faces joining us to check out what a Paradox event is all about. From challenging climbs to hanging out by the campfire sharing stories, Paradox has an amazing weekend ahead. The athletes will even be testing out a few new climbing foot prototypes as well as having “gear time” with each other’s equipment. Ultimately, the weekend will serve as a great reminder that it’s up to each one of us to define life on our own terms, regardless of what people tell us what we can and can’t do.
For those who’d like to see the magic of Paradox firsthand, you will be happy to know that there are still a few spots available if you are interested in joining us. To register or learn about this event: Paradox Rocks Shelf Road.
There are three days left to vote for the Inspiration Awards for Women. Please vote for my friend Kelly Perkins. She is an incredible woman who received a second chance at life after an unknown virus attacked and destroyed her heart back in 1992 and she received a heart transplant in 1995. And now she has climbed mountains all over the world. Kelly inspires me and truly deserves this honor!
The No Barriers team is proud to announce thatSoldiers to the Summit (S2S) is now an integral part of our mission to promote cutting-edge ideas, approaches, and assistive technologies that help people with challenges push through personal barriers. Operating under the umbrella of No Barriers, S2S will reach out to our nation’s heroes who are facing significant injuries and arduous recoveries.
Soldiers to the Summit (S2S) is an ongoing program, ending with an exciting capstone expedition, to specifically assist veterans dealing with post-war challenges. The S2S program strengthens the rehabilitation process and helps veterans prepare for their future. A mentoring component of the S2S experience builds upon the camaraderie and support-systems which are often integral to a veteran’s military experience.
Soldiers to the Summit began last year when Erik Weihenmayer (our co-founder and Chairman of the Board) and his team celebrated the tenth anniversary of their historic Everest climb. Together they led eleven disabled soldiers, all injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, toward the summit of Lobuche, a 20,161-foot peak in Nepal. This expedition was a tremendous success and will soon become the subject of a major feature film that will highlight the challenges faced by our veterans as they work to return home after life-changing injuries.
No Barriers has played an increasingly important role in raising funds and creating awareness for Soldiers to the Summit. We have extended that legacy forward with our successful fundraising climb of Quandary Peak in May and the inclusion of the Lobuche team members at our No Barriers Summit in July.
We are also pleased to announce that Charley Mace will serve as the Program Director for the S2S expeditions. Charley was with Erik on Everest and was an integral part of the first S2S expedition to Lobuche. He is one of Americas most highly regarded mountaineers with years of experience as a professional guide across the great ranges of the world. Charley has guided on every continent, climbed the seven continental high points, and summited four of the world’s fourteen 8000-meter peaks.
In addition to his climbing talents, Charley has a very strong business background. For six years, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Trango Equipment, a premier climbing equipment and apparel business, and he is a former Director of Operations of the American Alpine Club.
If you would like to help support or become more involved with the Soldiers to the Summit, you can contact Charley directly by email at email@example.com phone at 303-888-7247.
Fall in the Rockies is a great time to get out and enjoy the last warm sunny days of Indian summer. Last weekend, we enjoyed a great day of climbing with my longtime climbing partner Jeff Evans, my colleague Skyler Williams, and new friends Nick Hemmert, Annette Jewell, and Victoria Jewell.
We climbed a true 5-star classic, the Kelso Ridge of Torreys Peak, which is only an hour west of Denver. After a short hike, the climb ascends 1,800 feet up a steep and narrow ridgeline and reaches a crux at a narrow knife-edge that has to be saddled up like a horse. It is a challenging Class 3 route with tremendous drop-offs to each side and is considered a training ground for climbers looking to tackle more technical routes.
After six hours of climbing, we celebrated another fantastic summit. Congratulations to Annette and Victoria on their first 14er! Additionally, we are excited to share that the climb raised over $6,000 for No Barriers! Special thanks to Nick and his Denver-based company, Ability To, for all of their efforts in fundraising.
We are lucky to be able to meet new friends and spend beautiful fall days in the Rockies climbing. It’s funny how the No Barriers spirit has a way of emerging everywhere. Only after the climb did we find out that Annette suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, and that a climb like this was something she always wanted to do, but wasn’t sure it was possible. It was great to have her with us and get to see the No Barriers mindset in action!
Exciting news! The feature film about our Lobuche expedition is now official and titled High Ground. We’ve had to keep this quiet for months but now we can spread the word.
I can honestly tell you this film is going to blow you away! Nothing like it has ever been produced and Michael Brown has done an outstanding job making it happen. With the backing of a major Hollywood producer like Don Hahn, High Ground will have a tremendous impact upon everyone who sees it. Check out the press release and trailer:
The Lion King’s Don Hahn Takes HIGH GROUND
A moving portrait of returning veterans who set out to climb a Himalayan giant in a quest to heal the physical and mental ravages of war.
BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 6, 2011 — The Lion King producer Don Hahn, has joined Emmy Award-winning director Michael Brown on a new documentary, HIGH GROUND. The film tells the true story of eleven wounded veterans whose road to recovery takes them to the top of a Himalayan giant on a journey to heal the wounds of war.
“The story of these soldiers banding together to heal the wounds that have so radically altered their lives is beyond inspiring,” said Hahn. “I’m thrilled to join a gifted filmmaker like Michael in this remarkable undertaking.”
“Working with Don is a dream come true,” said Michael Brown, director and five-time Mount Everest summiter. “Don’s track record of film production is at the highest level and will lead HIGH GROUND to achieve the quality and visibility it deserves.”
Shot on location in Nepal and the United States, the film follows an expedition that teamed disabled veterans with world recognized mountain climbers, including blind Everest summiter Erik Weihenmayer.
Composer Chris Bacon (Source Code) has signed on to compose the score. Oscar winner Gary Rizzo (Inception) is slated to mix the film, with sound services provided by Skywalker Sound in Marin, California. HIGH GROUND will make its festival premiere in early 2012.
About Don Hahn
Don produced the box office giant The Lion King and the classic Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar®. Hahn’s films have been nominated for 18 Academy Awards. He recently directed Waking Sleeping Beauty and Hand Held and is Executive Producer of Tim Burton’s upcoming stop-motion animated film Frankenweenie (October 2012).
About Michael Brown
As a world-class mountaineer, Michael has summited Mount Everest five times. A three-time Emmy award-winning filmmaker, Michael has made over 50 expeditions to all seven continents, all with cameras rolling. Men’s Journal calls him “a master of gut-dropping action.” As founder of the Outside Adventure Film School, Michael practices another of his favorite pursuits: teaching.
My friend Rob Raker designed the course and took these photos–a huge effort by a man with a huge heart! The competition involved similar activities seen on the ABC show: map reading, riddles and puzzles to solve, objects to find, and answering key questions about native flora and fauna (ospreys, lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees, frogs, etc.) We just couldn’t find camels or Arabian stallions. Instead, we had teams catching crawdads, feeding carrots to a rather large Percheron horse, biking, running, boating, and swimming. The final challenge was to dive down in search of a golf ball – the ticket to finish.
But the most thrilling part of the day was yet to come! You see, our ranch is haunted by a lady who lived at the turn of the century. I told everyone the full story about how there was an accident involving a horse. She died and her ghost now lives in the old barn guarding over her child. Then we all went for a peek inside through a little peephole, through the rays of the sunlight, and the dust, you find in the back, a crib – a baby crib. Freaky scary!
The winners are listed below.
1. Team Surf ‘N Turf (Becky Hall and Charley Mace)
2. Brainy Brunettes (Rebecca Archer and Pam Waltz)
3. Team Alt-i-Tude (Leslie and John Altman)
Mixed; Adult and Child
1. The Blonde Bombers (Julie and Sadie Grimm)
2. The Red Rockets (Cork and Sam Grimm)
3. Team Super Cool (Matt and Max Paolucci)
1. Team Drummer Boys (Jack Nasky and Julian Archer)
2. Small and Tall and Small (Kate Altman, Roxie Holmes, and Abby Waltz)
3. The Golden Girls (Emma Weihenmayer, Mara Coe, and Natalie Capaul)
Here is a great article by wheelchair athlete Sherry Shulz about her experience in the Adventure Team Challenge in June. It was published in Sports ‘N Spokes, which is the magazine for wheelchair sports and recreation.
Sherry and her team in action!
Here’s a cool story about a cool lady, Sarah Doherty. Years ago,she lost one leg at the hip due to a drunk driver. Not only did that not slow her down but she went on to climb the highest peak in North America. And Sarah didn’t stop there…she went on to invent some super sophisticated crutches that allow people to do all sorts of outdoor adventures, year round.
Sarah brought her SideStix to the No Barriers Summit this July where the got a lot of attention. One thing lead to another and her invention recently won a Da Vinci Award from the National MS Society! Check out an article about this here. And visit her website to learn more about a cool product.
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