Thursday, 18 July 2013 08:56

Redefine the word possible with courageous actions

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Can’t is a strong word. We whisper it to ourselves when we think we’re too old, too late or too stupid to follow our dreams.

 

We shout it to people who challenge our notions of possible. And then people like Spencer West redefine it. They make us question what we can and can’t do.
In June of last year, Spencer climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest peak in Africa. Did I mention he has no legs?
When he was five, Spencer’s legs were amputated beneath his pelvis due to a genetic condition. Doctors said he’d never sit up, walk or be a functioning member of society. Spencer redefined the doctors’ prognosis.
Born in the U.S., Spencer lives in Toronto. He works for Me to We, an organization that sells socially-conscious clothes, books and music and also provides leadership training and transformative travel experiences.
Here, Spencer explains what motivated him to climb the 19,000-foot mountain.
DL: Who are your heroes and why?
SW: My parents are always my number one heroes. They are the reason I’m here. They are the ones who raised me to be so independent and so optimistic. It’s really with their original support that I am able to be who I am today and continue to do what I do.
DL:  What motivated you to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
SW: In 2008, I travelled to Kenya on a volunteer trip and to build a school for a charity called Free the Children. While I was there, it was a life-changing experience. It was the first time I saw poverty. I was sitting down with them in the grass and letting them ask a bunch of questions about how I got there and how I lost my legs. At the end, a girl said to me she didn’t know something like this, meaning the loss of my legs, could happen to white people, too. It was with this one phrase I realized how I could use my story to inspire other people to overcome obstacles, but in doing so to lend a helping hand to someone who needs it as well. These incredible folks from Kenya helped me find my passion and helped me find what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Now I work for Me to We as a speaker. I came back and with the help of my two best friends I launched this campaign called Redefine Possible to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and in doing so to not only redefine what’s possible for me, but to redefine what’s possible for others.
Spencer’s campaign raised almost $500,000 to provide sustainable, clean water to more than 12,500 people in the Free the Children communities and to give back to the incredible people of Kenya who gave him so much.
(Dominique Liboiron is an inspirational speaker. For more info call 306-661-8975.)

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Dominique Liboiron

Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing.