Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gone Flying

A couple of years ago, I had the chance to meet a person who, for me, embodies the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

His name is Carl Hiebert, he lives in Waterloo County near Toronto, Canada.

In his '20s, he was a sport jock: barefoot water skiing, motorcycling, hang gliding and other adrenaline junkies remedies. After a winter spent in the Northwest Territories, he traveled around the World on a 1,35$ daily budget and managed to hunt boars in India and make an attempt on the Matterhorn's summit.

On a fateful September 12th, in 1981, a hang gliding accident confined him into a wheelchair. While he was recovering from his accident, he left a message on his hospital door: gone flying.

He had found a new passion: flying ultralights.

He became the first paraplegic instructor in Canada, opened a flying school and became financially independent. But that was not enough. In 1986, he decided to cross Canada with his Ultralight (really, a chair suspended in the air) - 8000 km from the Maritime Provinces to Vancouver to Rally Expo '86 whose theme was Travel and Communications.

While so doing, he amassed money for numerous charitable organizations and took 14 000 pictures. The best 140 turned into a wonderful book: Gift of Wings - an aerial portrait of Canada.

Carl is now an international speaker and motivator. When he his not empowering people through is speeches, he travels the World (Haiti, Uganda) and comes back with pictures that he turns into books whose profits help build schools and hospitals in these impoverished countries.

Carl has a zest for life I have rarely seen and he's an example of courage for us all.

Next time you're busy finding excuses for all the things you "can't" do, think about Carl, and it will give you a kick in the butt. I know it does for me.

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