Dream comes true for quadriplegic woman
For Kuen Tang, Saturday (Sept. 22) was a mountain dream come true.
The Edmonton woman, who is a quadriplegic, went to the top of Ha Ling Peak, at the northwest corner of Mount Lawrence Grassi.
“It’s an adventure of a lifetime, it’s a dream come true, and is definitely something like a Make-a-Wish Foundation,” she said before setting out for the peak. “To have so many people come out and support me to go and do this thing is absolutely fantastic.”
The ascent was made possible with the use of a Trailrider, a single-wheel, chariot-like vehicle resembling a dogsled, pushed and pulled by a team of people.
“It’s impossible for someone like me to go up a mountain like this,” said Tang. “It’s never been done before, it’s a really good challenge for myself to go up there, and a challenge for the community to see that people with disabilities can conquer something that’s seemingly impossible.
“When you have a whole group of people that’s supporting you, the impossible is possible and I think that’s very important.”
About 45 people came out to assist Tang reach the top. The event was organized by the Push To Open Nature Society (PTONS), assisted by the Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Centre.
Sheila Crabbe, who spoke for PTONS, said the activity was about breaking down barriers.
“It’s challenging the concepts of what’s possible and pushing the limits helps you understand that most barriers can be mitigated,” she said. “The only real barrier is attitude, and with teamwork any barrier can be overcome – it’s being able to prove that this is possible and to make way for a lot of other people that maybe never thought this would be possible in their lives.
“A lot of individuals with disabilities wouldn’t dream of something like this, so it’s being able to challenge those concepts and we all work as a team and find ways to get things done.”
PTONS is a group of individuals, groups and organizations that get together to find ways to enrich people’s lives through connections with nature, said Crabbe.
“We do access challenges and bring together volunteers that are very energetic,” she said. “Organizations like Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Centre comes out and helps us with some of our trips and we get to meet fantastic people like Quen as well.”
The trail, which begins near the Goat Creek parking area on Spray Lakes Road, involves an elevation gain of about 700 metres, to a total altitude of 2,407 m.
“This trail is challenging enough for someone, but pulling a Trailrider will be more of a feat,” said Crabbe. “There is some scurry and rocky bits, where they may need to do lifts, and will find ways to remove the barriers using teamwork.
“The volunteers have been amazing, coming together and finding ways to make things happen and it’s pretty fantastic to see.”
Tang could hardly contain her excitement.
“I can cry right now, to see so many people come out and support me to do this – you can’t ask for more than this,” she said.
Tang became a quadriplegic 11 years ago, when her car went over a cliff. Since then, however, she has been actively involved in outdoor activities, such as skiing and snowboarding.
“I’m definitely afraid of heights, but in the last few years I’ve been challenging myself to go up to the highest level possible,” she said. “That’s what life should be about, it doesn’t matter what disability you have, doesn’t matter what difficulties you might have in life, it’s always good to challenge yourself every day and look for something else to aim at.”
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