As hard as it is to express in words how it felt as a mother to witness my 14-year-old daughter, who can’t walk, summit a mountain, here it goes….
Maya hasn’t always been in a wheelchair. When we decided against a major hip surgery 9 months ago, the tradeoff was that she would have to use a wheelchair to preserve her hips. Maya has MPS 1, a progressive rare genetic disease that affects all organs and systems in her body. The world of accessibility is fairly unchartered territory for our family. I am in a unique position in that I work for Power To Be as the Administrative Assistant and I have a child who is a participant. Power To Be breaks down accessibility and inclusion walls every day but until I experienced this first hand as a parent on a recent hike up Mount Finlayson using a Trail Rider to get Maya to the top, I had no idea how impactful this could be for a family.
I have an 11-year-old boy, Maya’s brother, who is able-bodied and very energetic. Not too long ago he asked me to hike with him up Mount Finlayson, so we did, and he came home beaming about the incredible view from the top and the journey to get there. A part of me felt bad for Maya because she was unable to experience this with us and she was expressing how much she would have loved to hike with us.
Fortunately, recently, with the help of incredibly dedicated staff and volunteers, Power To Be made that dream come true for Maya and our family, and it warmed my heart and soul.
Last summer, Maya, her best friend Poppy (who is battling Leukemia) and their dads were all set to go on a Trail Rider Overnight (TRON) program with Power To Be in Strathcona Park. Unfortunately, the smoke from the fires was too intense in that area so they did a Victoria-based weekend trip instead. They had a wonderful time but still had their sights set on Strathcona so TRON 2019 was planned and hopefully, pending fires, it will be a go! In preparation for the trip, a practice run up Mount Finlayson was organized with 6 Power To Be staff and 10 volunteers along with another family that will be doing a Trail Rider trip this summer as well.
To be honest, I have been up and down that mountain many times over the years and it is not an easy climb. I was struggling to wrap my head around how we were going to essentially push/carry Maya up to the top. How could we possibly have the strength and agility to do this? Well, I will tell you how…
With a lot of heart, skill, determination, teamwork, communication, humour, belief, trust, strength, collaboration, love, and goodwill. A Trail Rider is an amazing piece of equipment that enables people with mobility challenges to go to places that aren’t accessible in a wheelchair. They have been to the basecamp of Mount Everest and up Mount Kilimanjaro which is unimaginable. It truly is the brave rider and the resilient humans who carry it that makes the impossible possible. For this, I am forever grateful. It is those moments, like when I saw the huge smile on Maya’s face (she actually laughed the whole way up) when we reached the top and she observed the stunning views, that make tough journeys like this bearable and even magical.
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” – Rikki Rogers
Thank you to Power To Be and all the amazing volunteers for changing our lives and giving us hope!