Spencer West from Toronto, Canada – who lost his legs when he was just five years old – reached the summit of the 19,341ft high Mt. Kilimanjaro on Monday after a slow, gruelling and awe-inspiring trek.
Spencer West, 31, was born with sacral agenesis, a genetic disorder that left his lower spine poorly developed and his legs permanently crossed.
He had his legs removed below the knees at the age of three and, two-years-later, had them amputated to below his pelvis.
Medical experts told the courageous Canadian he would never be a functioning member of society but he has continued to defy doctors his entire life.
Spencer West trained for a year to scale the tallest peak in Africa without legs and set off on June 12 with best friends David Johnson and Alex Meers.
Spencer West reached the summit of the 19,341ft high Mt. Kilimanjaro on Monday after a slow, gruelling and awe-inspiring trek
The trek to the top took seven days, hiking through Tanzania’s jungles, snowfields and deserts – and Spencer West was forced to make 80% of the journey on his hands, only hopping in a custom-made wheelchair when the terrain allowed.
The trio made it to the final approach on Sunday and rose the following morning for the ascent to Uhuru Peak.
They reached the top at 11.15 a.m. after an exhausting seven hour hike.
Only 50% of people who attempt to scale the mountain make it to the top – and Spencer West described the moment he reached the summit as “incredible”.
He said: “The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage.
“We looked around and realised that, after seven grueling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat, tears and vomit we had actually made it.
“The bleeding fingers and blisters were all worth it.”
Spencer West added: “I set out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro not only to redefine what’s possible for me, but to inspire others to overcome obstacles and challenges of their own, and to give back to communities, that need our help.
“Reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever done, but in doing so, it reinforced the powerful message behind believing in yourself, and believing in others.
“So many people made this journey possible for me and I am so humbled by everyone’s support.”
Spencer West’s incredible feat has raised almost $500,000 for Free The Children, a charity which brings sustainable to thousands of Kenyans experiencing drought.
Tripp Roth, from Ponchatoula, Louisiana, the toddler whose brave fight against an excruciating skin disorder prompted a worldwide crusade to battle the illness has died.
Two-year-old Tripp Roth outlived all medical predictions during his battle with junctional epidermolysis bullosa, which caused his skin to blister at the slightest touch.
The toddler died in his mother’s arms on Saturday.
His mother, Courtney Roth, 26, in a blog entitled “EBing a Mommy”, wrote of her son’s passing: “My precious angel received his wings today. I have had many nightmares about having to write this post.
“He was exactly 2 years and 8 months old. It happened within minutes of me picking him up out of bed and rocking him. He took his last peaceful breaths in my arms, in his most favorite spot,” she continued.
On Sunday, a motorcade drove through Tripp Roth’s home town in tribute to the youngster, WWL TV reported.
Dozens of friends and family members organized “Ride for Tripp”, which grew in numbers as they drove down Ponchatoula’s Highway 22, escorted by police, red balloons reaching to the sky.
“Baby Tripp is an inspiration to all of us. He has touched everybody’s lives in this small town,” said Lerai Lucas, a family friend who helped organize the tribute.
Elsewhere, messages of condolence flooded a Facebook page paying tribute to the toddler, entitled “Prayers for Tripp”, where more than 39,000 have followed updates on the young boy’s condition.
Courtney Roth, who took time off from her nursing career to care for her son around the clock, began her blog three months after baby Tripp was born.
There, the mother gave insight to those unfamiliar with the life-long genetic disorder Epidermolysis bullosa, which affects 1 in 50,000 people.
Two-year-old Tripp Roth outlived all medical predictions during his battle with junctional epidermolysis bullosa, which caused his skin to blister at the slightest touch
Tripp Roth suffered from junctional EB, which affects around 1% of those with the disease.
When Tripp Roth was born he had just one small blister on his head and a few on his back, and doctors immediately diagnosed him with the condition. The toddler was missing a protein that binds one layer to another, which meant could not even bathe without taking powerful sedatives.
Tripp Roth struggled with breastfeeding because of the sores in his mouth so doctors used a feeding tube instead.
The condition meant any friction could cause sores and scars across his skin, his eyelids, the upper esophagus and inside his mouth.
Eventually, it claimed his sight.
With no cure, doctors suggested toddler’s mother to keep him wrapped in bandages to protect his delicate skin.
Tripp Roth had not been outside for a year, and was not expected to live longer than that.
Medical experts say many babies with the condition die after developing infections or from breathing problems after blisters develop in the respiratory tract.
In an earlier interview with ABC News, Courtney Roth proudly said how her son had “astounded” his doctors.
“He is just amazing. I have always said that from the beginning,” Courtney Roth continued.
The mother, too, had her own brave fight: “I have never been sad around him and I try not to cry around him. We’ve made it to where he is in the happiest environment possible. His spirit and personality are what keep me going,” Courtney Roth told the network.
Tripp Roth’s funeral will be held Wednesday at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ponchatoula.
What is Epidermolysis bullosa?
Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a severe genetic skin disorder that affects one in 50,000 live births.
Skin is made up of two layers; the outer layer is the epidermis and the inner layer is the dermis. In healthy skin, proteins hold the two layers together so they do not move separately.
In those born with EB, the layers do not have the protein that holds them together. It means that any movement that creates friction between the two layers creates blisters.
Tripp Roth suffered from junctional EB, which affects around one per cent of those with the disease.
He was not expected to live past a year; many babies with the condition die after developing infections or from breathing problems after blisters develop in the respiratory tract.
Blisters can develop anywhere on the skin, and the mouth and eyes are particularly susceptible to the sores. Heat exacerbates the condition.
Some sufferers are born with blisters but others will develop them in the first few weeks of their life.