On February 9th, I had the opportunity to be part of an amazing and inspiring event to join Michael Mills as he took on Stone Mountain. His goal was to make his way to the top of the mountain to raise money for Bert’s Big Adventure. The challenge being that Michael is a paraplegic and Stone Mountain is a 600 foot granite mountain which sits on the outskirts of Atlanta, GA. Stone Mountain is a common place for the Georgia Obstacle Racers to get together and run trails and then load up with weight to go up the mountain. In support of Michael, we made it an event for us to get out and push ourselves even harder than we normally do. We had weighted vests, car tires, sandbags, ruck sacks; basically anything which would make the trek up the mountain more challenging than normal. I chose to put on my weighted vest for this occasion.
When we all got there, this was the first time for many of us to actually meet Michael. Injured by a drunk driver at the age of 16, we found Michael to be a determined and strong person. As we started up the mountain with Michael first in his special made wheel chair and then down to his hands and knees, we were all very quiet. It was a humbling moment to see this person working so hard to do something which we normally take for granted. Many people shed some tears and the rest you could tell wanted to. As we progressed and Michael made some jokes, the mood lightened and up we went! Other people who were walking the mountain this day, stopped and cheered for Michael and told him what an amazing job he was doing. Many would stop us and ask what was going on. Some continued their walks but could be heard saying they really didn’t think they should be complaining of being tired.
Four and a half hours later, we made it to the top of the mountain. Exhausted, Michael used one of the sandbags as a pillow to rest his head on for a few minutes before turning around and deciding the best path to make his way back down. As far as he knew, Michael was the first person to conquer Stone Mountain on their hands and knees. What he did for us this day was to make us take a step back and look at ourselves. If he can make his way up this mountain, what can we do with ourselves? What can we accomplish that we didn’t know we could do? What are our limits and how far past them can we go?
Later on as some of us were talking, we all said we would never forget this day. We all walked away from it feeling stronger and more determined in what we will take on for this year. Some of us are looking at GORUCK or the SUCK and others are re-evaluating their bucket lists to see what they can add to them. What we do know is we will be catching up with Michael as he takes on the Reebok Spartan Sprint on March 9th here in Georgia. We hope to be on the course to once again be able to support this incredible athlete in his new challenge, which none of us doubts he will accomplish.