Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Juan Botero - Inspiring Mountaineer and Fundraiser for Kids

Juan on his Greenspeed recumbent bike.
This Saturday, September 24th, is the annual Rodman Ride for Kids in Boston - a unbrella charity event in which various local organizations will be raising money through sponsorships. About 1200 cyclists will ride 25, 50, or 100 mile non-competitive tours to raise money for youth-focused social service agencies that support and improve the lives of at-risk children in Massachusetts. Among the cyclists will be Juan Martin Botero, riding 25 miles to raise money for Partners for Youth with Disabilities.

Juan en route to Machu Picchu in Peru.
Juan is a native of Colombia who was born with Ataxia, a genetic and degenerative neurological disease that didn't start to effect his life until he was 26 years old, two years after he moved to the U.S. An experienced mountain climber and guide in Columbia, Juan continues to follow his passion at age 37 from a wheelchair. Through an Iowa-based organization called Alpenglow Adventures, Juan has fulfilled dreams to hike 10 miles to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, summit 19,340 foot Mt. Kilimanjaro, and hike 28 miles to Machu Picchu in Peru. In doing so, he became the first person who cannot walk to access these remote locations. Of these three sites, Juan's favorite trek was Kilimanjaro.

I asked Juan about the adaptive equipment provided by Alpenglow that he used to complete these adventures. The Trailrider got him to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, along with lots of assistance. The kilicart, more comfortable and maneuverable for longer trips, was used in Africa and Peru. Both are assistive devices that allow other hikers to push and pull the wheeled hiker. (Alpenglow welcomes experienced hikers to join trips as porters!) The challenge with this type of gear is building in more independent usage. Juan says, "The more I use the devices, I want to improve their design." I notice this too - there is plenty of room for improvement with adaptive hiking chairs we use in our programs.

Juan and Alpenglow hikers atop Mt. Kilamanjaro.
This will be his third year cycling in the Rodman Ride for Kids. Juan is a inspiring mentor for youth with disabilities. Click here to sponsor Juan on the ride - and help Partners for Youth with Disabilities continue to provide support, understanding and guidance via positive adult role models for youth with disabilities as they strive to reach their personal, educational and career goals. Go Juan!!!!

Other Boston area events this weekend: Get to one if you can!
Change People's Lives - Conference and Expo - Friday, September 23 - Hynes Center
Life is Good Festival - Prowse Farm, Canton - Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25


kt dubs said...

Hopefully I get to meet you tomorrow! -Katie.I'm riding for bottom line.

Marcy Marchello said...

In looking for more info on the equipment Juan used, I was connected to Justin Ebert, who sent me the following:

My name is Justin Ebert, and with Alpenglow Adventures, I have been part of several of Juan's amazing trips. We use two different trail mobility devices and teams of incredible helpers to make these trips possible.

The Trailrider is a device that was developed by Sam Sullivan of British Colombia Mobility Opportunities Society. Sitting on one wheel, Juan has used the Trailrider to become the first person to be fully assisted to the Uhuru summit of Mount Kilimanjaro as well as first to complete the entire Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We have also used the Trailrider to take the first individual who is physically unable to walk, to the bottom of Grand Canyon National Park via the Bright Angel Trail. Because the device is on one wheel, the people pushing and pulling do much of the stabilizing and it allows for us to weave in and out on narrow trails. The other device we use is the Kilicart.

The Kilicart was developed by Dr. Jesse Owens of the University of Alaska-Anchorage. This device has a total of 5 wheels (2 that do not touch the ground, but help you get over trail obstacles). This device was used to get Juan to the bottom of Grand Canyon National Park as well as to Havasu Falls in the Havasupai Indian Reservation.

There are several photos online of the Trailrider but it is a little more difficult to find the Kilicart. Hope this helps!