Hiking with Kasper

GS friends encounter the complexity of taking their wheelchair bound friend up the mountain during the summer vacation hike.

This past June we had our GS Summer Vacation. For this vacation we had a friend of ours with us named Kasper who is bound to a wheelchair. There were many obstacles to figure out through the entire vacation so that he could enjoy the vacation and feel comfortable as well. One of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to go on hikes in the Shenandoah mountains with Kasper up steep mountains with rocky trails. We knew that we couldn't bring him up in his typical wheelchair because it was not built for these conditions, so Fr. Medina came up with an idea. He had found a wheelchair with one wheel and two long handle bars in the front and in the back for two people to carry him up. The main issue with this plan was that the chair was six thousand dollars, but this ultimately was not a problem because he managed to collect the money for the chair from only a few donors. When I had heard that only a handful of people were needed to reach the goal of six thousand dollars I was amazed.

It was beautiful to see how willing people were to donate such large sums of money so that Kasper could enjoy the hike with the rest of us. The second hike we took was a difficult one up some very steep hills. We were determined to get him up to the top for the incredible view of Chimney Rock. A large group of highschool boys had decided that they all wanted to help to bring Kasper up the mountain. This did not go quite as planned because two particularly determined friends were stubborn and insisted on bringing Kasper up the entire mountain. Even with this, it was still beautiful to see how many people were willing to assist Kasper up the mountain to the final destination.

When we reached the final stretch these two friends, to our utter amazement, allowed us to give some assistance, so we did. We had boys lined up along the trail to hold the wheelchair as it went up the mountain, and we did this till we reached the top. It was incredible to see the willingness of everyone to help get Kasper to the top and how happy people were once we had made it. Kasper’s complete trust in his friends to keep him safe all the way up to the top was beautiful to me. He knew that his life was in their hands and he still trusted them and let them do the work.

In the end it was striking to see how everyone worked together to help Kasper and how everyone was willing to help where it was needed. Yet, the most beautiful thing to see was the friendship between everyone who helped – even in the face of our two stubborn friends – and the joy on everyone's face when we made it to the top. There was no sense of annoyance, they were all happy to be where they were helping Kasper.

Francesco, Silver Spring, MD