Karun Thanjavur

The Rise Above Barriers Society has become, even in a few weeks, more of a family to me – the extended family of Pippa and Penny – than just a team striving toward a goal. I treasure the warm welcome of this family and sincerely cherish the opportunity to be part of a shared dream as we pull together – literally – to realize a collective vision!

My introduction to this family came via my involvement as a "Sherpa" with the TrailRider program, jointly organized by the Alpine Club of Canada, Vancouver Island Section (ACC-VI) and Recreation Integration Victoria. Using the TrailRider, this pertinent program enables us to share the joy of the outdoors with those undaunted by their physical disabilities. To be touched by their indomitable spirits and to see their smiles of delight more than doubles my own pleasure of being in the mountains.

Born and raised in a small seaside town in Southern India, my introduction to the meditative and comforting silence of the snowy peaks came only recently, after my move to Victoria in 2001. At present, as a full time graduate student in Astrophysics at UVic, I put in the long hours to collect enough good karma for weekend and longer trips with the ACC to explore the many treasures on our lovely island.

There are many reasons that make this journey with Pippa and my other friends to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest very important to me. First is the opportunity to play a role in helping realize Pippa, Jasper and Ollie’s shared and long cherished dream. In addition, I fully endorse their desire to inspire and lay the groundwork for other such journeys by people with disabilities. I do admit a personal weakness for the big peaks and with the typical zeal of a new convert I have festooned my apartment with their posters. This journey will also be my pilgrimage to pay obeisance at the feet of many of the most majestic amongst them.

Last, but definitely not the least, I will carry with me the warm wishes of my family and the memory of my parents, especially that of my mother, Kantha, who like Pippa never let MS take away any of her cheerful spirit, her love of nature, her sincere care and concern for those around her and her vibrant and infectious zeal for life.