This past weekend I had the honor of being asked by Paradox Sports to help out at The Basecamp Breakfast Fundraiser in Boulder Colorado. It just so happened that the film about my ascent of El Capitan aptly called Enock, premiered at the Adventure Film Festival, also in Boulder. I had an unforgettable weekend and thought I would give you all some of the highlights.
This was the second annual Basecamp Breakfast Fundraiser to support the work of Paradox Sports. Invited guests from the Boulder business community were treated to a number of speeches from various Paradox athletes such as Maureen Beck, David Ortiz, Sean O’ Neill and myself. Vasu Sojitra another Paradox athlete was the MC for the event and did an amazing job entertaining the crowd and making things flow. We all spoke of the ways Paradox and disability had impacted our lives in different ways. Each speech was a completely different story of hardship, triumph, and perseverance,
David Ortiz (no not that one haha)
I especially found David Ortiz speech to be particularly heartfelt and moving as he delved into his life since being injured in a helicopter crash while in the army, stationed in Afghanistan. Story of David Ortiz Helicopter Crash
Maureen Beck spoke of what Paradox has meant to her life and I lucked out being in Boulder when she pulled off one of the most amazing climbs in her history. It also happened to be the first time I met her in person. So cool to be there for such a momentous moment in climbing. You can read her thoughts about it here: http://www.moinmountains.com/blog/2017/10/9/the-project
Vasu Sojitra I have known for a few years now. We met at a Paradox Ice event in New Hampshire but also went skiing for a week in Alaska on another Paradox trip. He is the adaptive sports director of an adaptive program in Bozeman Montana called Eagle Mount Bozeman. He also is a major athlete who happens to only have one leg because he was born with septicemia and had to have it amputated. He is a skier, climber, mountaineer and most recently skateboarder. You can find out more about him and see his films at www.vasusojitra.com
Sean O’ Neill
Sean O’ Neill you have heard me mention many times as he has been a big influence in my life over the past few years. We met at a Paradox Gunks event and he has since mentored and trained me to take on big challenges, namely my ascent of El Capitan last year. Incidentally, I topped out El Capitan a year ago on October 9th, 2016. Sean spoke of his involvement with Paradox as he and his brother Timmy are two of the original founders of the organization. Sean O’ Neill receives Excellence in Climbing Award from the American Alpine Club
Now, what did I speak about? First of all, I didn’t even write anything before getting up on stage. As usual, I had an idea of what to say but mostly just winged it. I find that just speaking from the heart and making it more about telling a story really works for me. I did manage to get my point across and by the standing ovation and comments, did it quite well. I spoke of what it felt like to summit El Capitan and how that was a huge moment in my life. What I didn’t realize was that many more huge moments would spring out of that moment. I have had the opportunity to travel around the country speaking to various groups and showing what is possible. By the way, anything is possible. Some of us may need more help than others to accomplish something but we can still get there. I also spoke about how none of it would have been possible without the amazing people who volunteer and work for Paradox Sports. They have been there for me throughout this journey and been there to help when needed. After my speech, I got a standing ovation but I really think it was for the movie that we showed right before haha. I had a couple friends come up to me after and ask where I took my speech classes. I told them I have never taken a class and they were very impressed. It made me feel good to know I am getting better at this speaking thing. Another benefit of doing this event was the opportunity to meet a lot of great people from the Boulder community. I had the privilege of meeting a man who as he was telling me about his son being affected by Muscular Dystrophy started to tear up. He told me that seeing my movie and hearing me speak gave him a sense of hope and motivation to show his son what is possible and help him do more in life. These are the moments I truly cherish. Getting big summits and achieving goals is amazing also but it is what that allows to happen after that are the truly great moments.
adventure film festival
Before I get to the actual premiere, I want to talk about hanging out at the Paradox Sports table. I had the best time hanging out with Shelley Brook, who works for Paradox Sports. I started out sitting behind the table but later on ventured out in front of the table and that changed everything. I met so many great people who wanted to talk to me about my climbing, film and Paradox Sports. The best part was when the adults would say I want my kids to meet you and would bring them back to talk to me. I truly love that part of this whole experience. There is nothing better than when a kid comes up to you and is shy but then you are able to get them to open up and maybe instill some sort of idea that anything in life is possible. I really hope some of those kids take that to heart and are able to accomplish great things just because they believe it’s possible. I wish I had gotten all their names so I could find out how things turn out in their lives.
Premiere night came the night before I left to come home. I had no idea what to expect as I said I had never done this before. There were a lot of interesting films that you should check out if you can including La Cumbre, Chocolate Spokes, and Paul’s Boots to name a few.
When it came time for mine to play, Mike the Executive Director of Paradox Sports and I had made our way down to the side of the stage as we were supposed to introduce the film. It was really surreal waiting backstage knowing that up to 800 people were waiting to see my film and hear me speak. Once again I had nothing written and really had no idea what I wanted to say. Mike and I talked a little backstage about what I might say. In the moment though it just sort of flowed out of me. I spoke about my desire for challenge, how it makes me happy and how Paradox Sports has been instrumental in that pursuit. Once again I got a standing ovation. It was so cool having that many people clapping and cheering out of appreciation for all the hard work that went into this adventure and the film. We also ended up receiving the inspiration award for the film. I do hope that the film inspires people to get out and try things and to keep trying if it doesn’t work out the first time.
I want to thank everyone from Paradox Sports, Craig Muderlak for the amazing film, and everyone on the team that made this adventure happen. It is a very special thing to have people like you in my life that when I say let’s do this you all step up.
All Photos Taken in this Post By www.willstrathmann.com