True Vision: The Inspiring Story of Erik Weihenmayer

Erik Weihenmayer manoa

This past Saturday, I sat in the packed Stan Sheriff Center at University of Hawaii Manoa, surrounded by an eager crowd of fellow onlookers, each of us awaiting to hear the words that Erik Weihenmayer was about to share. Weihenmayer, blind since losing his vision at the tender age of 13, has become a celebrated and accomplished athlete, adventurer and inspirational speaker. His message, as well as the organization he works with, promotes the positive mentality and proactive approach to live a “No Barriers Life.” As I listened to the amazing accomplishments of this man – climbing the Seven Summits of the world, mountaineering, rock climbing, reality-TV-starring, book writing, filmmaking, and even whitewater kayaking—I’m not only inspired, but also more than a bit humbled. Throughout the entire length of his speech, Weihenmayer mixed endearing humor with inspirational call to actions, as well as an undercurrent of true and authentically poignant pain. What sets Weihenmayer apart from most is that, rather than seek sympathy for what some may see as only an obstacle (his blindness), he seeks camaraderie. Camaraderie in the sense of human interconnection on the shared journey of life. One of the most invaluable lessons I learned from this fearless adventurer, was the extreme importance he places upon “his team.”  Whether it be his wife, his children, his sponsors or his guides along the often treacherous trails, Weihenmayer has a deep awareness that the ability to have unwavering trust and the utmost confidence in his inner circle is literally a matter of life and death. The speaker stresses that attitude, self-belief and an unquenchable spirit are all necessities to overcoming all obstacles in life, but most importantly, he has us understand that none of us, even he, can get there alone. Rather than paying mere lip-service to this mentality, Weihenmayer and two colleagues created No Barriers, an non-profit organization with the sole purpose of promoting innovative ideas, approaches and modern technologies to empower people with disabilities to push through their own personal barriers in order to live full, active and inspired lives. Audience members alongside myself were able to witness excerpts from reels Weihenmayer has brought to share, depicting some of his most memorable participants in the No Barriers program. I watched the screen astounded, as a paraplegic proved limbs lost were no roadblock to riding a bicycle up an entire mountain peak and a blind kayaker made his way through whitewater and raging river rapids through the entire Grand Canyon waterway. To say I was speechless would be an understatement. Weihenmayer now continues to travel the world and share his remarkable story, hoping to inspire others to action—both to benefit and empower themselves, as well as others. This man, whose sight was stolen at such a young age, amazingly has more vision than most people out there in this world. For more information, or to support his organization and projects, visit —Andy Beth Miller