About Team Marvel:
At the Foundation for Blind Children they believe that vision loss is a diagnosis, not a disability and they’re out to prove that. Not only can individuals with vision loss cross streets and play sports, but they can also conquer mountains, cross canyons and swim in the oceans.
Our team consists of 10 visually impaired rafters and hikers with many different levels of vision impairment along with their 10 guides.
Our challenge is to spend 5 Days Rafting the Upper Colorado River through The Grand Canyon & 1 Day Hiking out on the 7.5 Mile Bright Angel Trail
Training included 6 official hikes that varied anywhere from 6-12 miles with a minimum of 1200 feet of gain along with extra training every Wednesday at Shaw Butte starting back in December of 2014. There was also water training done at Tempe Town Lake.
The majority of the 10 students have never hiked before this challenge was accepted. Several of them have never used trekking poles, some have guide dogs they use daily and some use canes to help feel their way around the world. It was an adjustment for all of us to work together to communicate.
Tanner Robinson, a blind student at FBC has conquered Mt Kilimanjaro, swam the Alcatraz Invitational and hiked the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim. Not only have these trips given him an immense amount of confidence, but it has empowered him to conquer anything he has set his mind to including a Bachelors Degree from Arizona State University & Gaining a career in the Secretary of States office. He will be joining us on this adventure.
It’s now time to “pass the baton” and give a once in a lifetime opportunity to a new generation of visually impaired students through this adventure.
Over the years the FBC has learned these events can directly impact the future and confidence of their kids future, 70% of blind adults are unemployed, these events are changing that!
We depart for our adventure on June 4th. We will be hiking out of the canyon on June 11th.
Join in for a little vicarious adventure with a summary of our journey so far from our training hikes:
With me in this photo is the student I guide, Taylor. This was our first hike together. We share the same Birthday!
Alex Pushman is on the right rear in this photo. He is a guide and works as the Director of Marketing and Development for the FBC. His favorite thing to do before a hike is to spray an entire bottle of sunscreen all over himself to get the perfect glisten. He is also incredibly kind and dedicated to the people he lovingly serves.
The first few hikes Taylor and I did together were intense for us both. We had to learn how to communicate in a way neither of us had ever done before. I had to explain the terrain, use my poles to click on larger rocks, gain her trust, and guide us along the trails in a way that allowed us to dodge cactus, people, loose rocks and be sure she didn’t fall into any voids off the mountain.
Taylor’s vision has changed and declined during our training together. We have shared a few rough miles but our ability to communicate allowed us to find a groove that is just as unique as we are. Many times she can’t trust her vision so will close her eyes and allow me to show her the way.
In the beginning we spent the entire time communicating about the trail, 6 months later Taylor and I are able to chat about life instead. She can simply feel the ebb and flow of my body by holding on to my pack. It is quite amazing really.
These two have been teammates for so many miles. Tanner climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro! These two are so in tune with each other it is a beautiful dance to watch them work together. The first hike we all did these two set the example of what we aimed to achieve.
Tatiana is a teacher at the FBC. Andrew is one of her students. She has a very special place in her heart for him. She volunteered to be a guide for this trip so he could participate. He is a chatterbox! On one of our first hikes he was certain his toes fell off. Another time we were just below the summit of Bell Pass on the ridge when he said he knew we were almost there because he could feel the wind sweep over the saddle. He had never hiked prior to this challenge.
Standing on the glorious and well earned summit of Sunrise Peak. Andrew did this 8 mile hike in some high top shoes with cotton socks. Many of the students had no hiking experience or the proper gear. Through many donations and generous individuals they have been able to get more appropriate gear that has helped their comfort tremendously.
This is a very steep portion of Sunrise Peak. Many of the students have little to no depth perception. The drop offs on these steep passes for Taylor look like giant black holes. While it is difficult going up, coming down is harder and can be terrifying for them. The ability for them to trust us is a lesson in life I will never quite come to grips with. I am incredibly fortunate that she finds that place for me in her heart.
Chris works for the FBC and is also legally blind. He is always the guy up front as the pace setter. Chris has conquered many miles with trail dirt under his feet. Recently he backpacked Havasupai for the 4th time. He also is the man waiting with the oranges at the top. Roman in the rear is a machine. That kid quietly consumes miles and miles of trail with no assistance!
The extra senses these marvelous kids feel, touch and hear are intensified in the outdoors. The peace you see, they feel, smell, hear and touch. The next story that will be told will be one of what this experience did for all involved. It will be a story of the evolution of our senses and souls. I can’t wait to share this magic with you upon our return.
I will update and share via my media channels when I have signal and can connect for you to follow along with us.
Please visit the website for The Foundation for Blind Children/See It Our Way to learn more about the incredible people that support and surround this amazing space.
I also encourage you to watch the most recent HBO Real Sports Episode 218 featuring Blind Mountain Climber Eric Weihenmayer.
Send us your thoughts, prayers, good vibes, well wishes and strength. We are about to embark upon a journey that will be sure to challenge each of us in many ways. Our vibration rises together. So glad you are all here to participate in that uplifting energy.
Sending Peace, Love & Dirt,
Jes the CCC