Paralyzed Girl Ascends Mt. Kilimanjaro in Wheelchair

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Meet 29-year-old Erica Davis. (Published Thursday, May 26, 2011)

    San Diego resident Erica Davis, 29, was paralyzed from the waist down by a non-cancerous spinal tumor five and a half years ago. 

    "At the time I was thinking am I ever going to be able to play sports again? Because sports is my life," Davis said.

    Paraplegic Athlete Trains for Kilimanjaro Climb

    [DGO] Paraplegic Athlete Trains for Kilimanjaro Climb
    To reach the top, she'll have to rely on team, specially built chair and fierce inner strength. (Published Thursday, Jan 21, 2010)

    Deciding to view her disability as a challenge, Davis began using special machines that moved her legs for her and kept her healthy -- healthy enough to eventually ascend Mount Kilimanjaro in her wheelchair in January 2010.

    The Challenged Athletes Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities, approached Davis in 2009 and asked her to join an expedition, which would include numerous people to help her up the mountain.

    During her ascent, shown in the documentary "Through the Roof," Erica's team included 33 porters and three guides, to carry and help on the steepest parts of the mountain. Most of the time, Davis used her hands to propel her chair.

    "From bottom to top was about five and half days with one day of rest at 12,000 feet, and there were two days that were so long. This is seven to 11 or 12 hours a day," Davis said.

    Despite the grueling trek, Davis and her team overcame the emotional and physical challenges, and on Jan. 31, 2010, they reached the top.

    "It's almost sunset when we summited so we had a really special moment up there," Davis said. "I thought I couldn't do sports again. Going up there and doing something so incredible like this, it's showing everyone whether they are in chairs or not, that anything is possible."

    On April 14, Davis was awarded the Movement Therapy Advocate Award at a ceremony in Los Angeles.

    Her next adventure will be to repel 33 stories over the edge of the west coast's tallest building, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.