THE GREAT GRAND CANYON WHEELCHAIR HIKE
Anthony Castle is living proof that nothing is impossible, not even if you’re a fourteen year old boy in a wheelchair – especially if you have courage and the willing help of family, friends and passing strangers.
When Anthony was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at just three years old and confined to a wheelchair, he never gave up his dream of dipping his toes into the emerald green waters of the Colorado River.
Carried by courage and compassion
Hiking the ten miles down the mighty Grand Canyon to the river below is a tough ask. Around 30 stalwart individuals, including paramedics, made the journey with Anthony who was carried in a specially designed wheelchair suspended between two poles. Twisting, turning and zigzagging down to the bottom, the volunteers rotated every 20 minutes of the 6 hour trek.
The convoy, often led by Anthony’s younger brother, Oliver, had enough stops on the way to take in the beauty of one of the world’s most breathtaking views. Paramedics constantly kept a keen watch on Anthony’s oxygen and fluid levels but after a brief moment of anxiety, the river was reached.
Reaching the river
Carried by his father and watched with emotion by the whole party, Anthony was at last able to dip his toes in the water, saying happily, though not surprisingly, ‘It’s cold!’ But there were more delights as letters from thousands of well wishers were given him, with a very special one from grandparents congratulating a courageous and indomitable grandson.
Climbing back to the top
After a night out beneath the stars, energy and good spirits remained high as the group made their way back up the canyon. Anthony’s mother, Jill said, ‘It was the greatest experience of my entire life – I don’t want it to be over.’ As for Anthony, the sparkle in his eyes and the huge grin that lit up his face, expressed his joy more clearly than any words. Never give up hope might be the message of this inspiring journey. No dream need ever be impossible.
You can find out more about Anthony's adventure on his Facebook page.