Wheelchair Hiker Summits Colorado Mountain


Nerissa Dawn Cannon thought her life was over when she first started having pain and balance problems. After a period of just expecting the problems to go away, she finally sought medical care. While the doctors still have no idea why Nerissa’s body no longer supports her properly, the 23-year-old has embraced life in a wheelchair in a way that few others have ever done.

Nerissa who now has to use the wheelchair full time because her legs no longer function has gone camping, kayaking and enjoys photography as a hobby. The woman, however, thought that there was one thing that she might never get to do. That thing was to climb one of Colorado’s 53 mountains that stretch over 14,000 feet into the air.

Then, Nerissa met the team from No Barrier who embraced her dream of summiting Mt. Bierstadt. The organization was able to put together a team of 27 different people to make Nerissa’s dream come true. For seven brutal miles, on a cold September day, the team helped pull Nerissa’s wheelchair up the mountainside using a rope attached to the wheelchair. You can watch as they reach the summit.

Once the team reached within 0.25 miles of the summit, they realized that Nerissa’s wheelchair could go no further. Nerissa thought her dream was over, but the team refused to give up. Team leader Connor Koch who has climbed all 53 of Colorado’s mountains who’s elevation reaches over 14,000 feet hit upon an idea. With the help of other team members, Connor carried Nerissa to the top of the mountain on his back.

As the team stood gazing at the beauty that could be seen only from the top of the mountain, Nerissa said that she had learned, “I’ve learned that the best things in life are accomplished through teamwork.”

Nerissa, however, is not done planning big tasks in the future. Next summer she plans to embark from California on a cross-country trip wheeling herself across the United States following Route 66.


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