Spencer West – Man vs. Mountain
Courage. Strength. Determination.
Spencer West possesses all of these qualities. For those of you who don’t know Spencer, he was born with a disease that limited the blood flow to his legs and as a result he had to have them amputated at age 5.
What is a disability? It’s typically regarded as something that would prevent someone from functioning as a regular member of society. Spencer chose not to accept the doctor’s prognosis that “he would never be able to sit up on his own”, or, be a “functioning member of society”. Instead, he decided to attend a regular school, go on to obtain his college degree and be a varsity cheer leader to boot!
Since completing his education, he’s moved on to become a motivational speaker for the organization Free the Children, inspiring tens of thousands world-wide. On one of his travels to Kenya he realized his calling, making a strong connection with the wonderful people he met there.
Kenya is now in the midst of its worst drought in over 60 years.
Spencer has chosen to take action in an effort to assist in the drought relief efforts in Kenya. Spencer along with his two best friends, Alex Meers and David Johnson, will raise $750,000 to build wells and give over 18,500 people access to clean water through a campaign they’ve coined “Redefine Possible”.
I have had the pleasure of working with, and getting to know, all three of these inspiring individuals for over a year now in preparation for this climb. During our sessions I have pushed them to their physical limits and have seen the strength and determination that each possesses, all qualities that will assist them in making the journey to the top. I have seen remarkable strength and conditioning improvements and I can say that they are in excellent condition for the climb ahead.
I would like to share some of the experiences I’ve had with Spencer and some of the stand out quotes and moments that I find particularly inspirational.
Totum’s reception area is in the lower level and is only accessible by stairs. I had never met Spencer before or watched any of his videos, so I didn’t know what to expect. As I waited, I saw him roll past the windows in his wheel chair. He got off his chair and effortlessly walked down the stairs on his hands and greeted me. This was my first impression- no legs, no big deal, he just walks on his hands. Impressive!
During our initial assessment, I had the guys do push ups. After seeing Spencer walk up and down stairs, I had no doubt he would be able to do them. He asked “how many would you like me to do?” I said “let’s shoot for 10-15″. He did 15 with perfect form (torso suspended in the air and only hands on the ground) and no sign of fatigue. I said “great form Spencer- full range of motion and excellent rep speed”. He replied, “I feel like I’m cheating because I don’t have any legs”. I replied, ok, I’ll have to make these more challenging then!
On most occasions, Spencer would come with either Alex or David, who would carry his wheel chair down the stairs for him. This particular time, Spencer came alone. As I was on my way to greet him and help him with his chair (about 30 ft away) , I could see he was already at the top of the stairs. He was lining up his chair and appeared to be ready to let it roll down on its own and most likely crash at the bottom. I yelled I’ll be right there buddy, but he didn’t hear me. Instead, he held the wheel with one hand and proceeded to bring it down on his own- his chair, himself and his nap sack over his shoulder with only one hand. As he got to the bottom, he climbed up on his chair and greeted me. I said that’s pretty impressive buddy. He said with a grin, “It’s easy bringing it down, but much harder bringing it back up”.
I was almost in disbelief that this could be possible. Surely the doctors who told his parents that he would not be able to sit up on his own wouldn’t believe it. However, Spencer chose to dismiss what most would call a disability and instead chose to have a positive impact on society and make a real difference. He will accomplish more without legs than most people will who are physically sound. Sure he faces different challenges with locomotion, but his determination and mental and physical strength make him almost unstoppable!
I along with ALLMAX Nutrition, wish Spencer, Alex, and David, all the best in their climb on June 10th. It has been a pleasure working together and this experience has inspired me to get more involved with causes such as this in my own community.
What can you do to get involved and support Spencer on his journey?
- Support the cause by following Spencer’s climb at www.freethechildren.com/redefinepossible
- Share Spencer’s remarkable story with your friends, family and network, and inspire them to Redefine their Possible
- Support! $10 sponsors a step on their 20,000 step journey to the top of Africa’s tallest mountain