Legless man summits Mount Kilimanjaro
Published Tuesday, June 19, 2012 10:08AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 19, 2012 10:13AM EDT
The legless Toronto man who was told as a child he would never be a functioning member of society has once again defied the odds, reaching the summit of Africa's highest mountain.
Spencer West made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro on Monday, achieving the primary goal of the 8-day trek he and his two friends David Johnson and Alex Meers began on June 12.
In an interview from the mountain in Tanzania Tuesday, West told CTV's Canada AM that despite training for about a year, the experience has proven more difficult than he imagined.
"It was a lot different than I anticipated," West said by telephone, describing the challenge of scrambling up the nearly 6,000-metre mountain on his hands, in his wheelchair and, at times, on the backs of porters.?
"I'll be honest, it was a little difficult," he said. "Number 1, there was a lot of snow at the top. Also my two buddies that were climbing with me actually got hit by massive altitude sickness and I didn't.
"So I ended up supporting them."
West said finally reaching the summit was an unforgettable, indescribable experience.
"By the time I got to the top my hands were numb, my elbows were sore, my shoulders were sore -- but there's something to be said about determination and trying to reach your goal," he explained.
"And for us, we wanted to be this symbol that anything is possible and that we could redefine what's possible for ourselves and maybe for others."
West was born in 1981 with a rare genetic spinal disorder called sacral agenesis. His legs were amputated when he was just five.
But the fact he's only two-feet, seven-inches tall hasn't stopped West from dedicating his life to inspiring others. The Wyoming native now lives in Toronto, where he works full time and travels as a motivational speaker.
His Kilimanjaro mission, dubbed "Redefine Possible," is aiming to raise $750,000 for the charity organization Free the Children's sustainable water initiatives in Kenya.
So far, West said they've raised two-thirds of the target amount.
"We're still hoping that people will help us out. The journey continues," he said from a spot approximately two-thirds of the way back down the mountain.
To follow West's adventures, or donate to the cause, visit the website.