He was told, as a small child, that he could never hope to ever become a functioning member of society . . .
Such a cruel prognosis could have destroyed a lesser person’s outlook on life for ever. But not Spencer West’s.
The incomparable Canadian has a saying: ‘Define possible’. That he does much more than talk the talk is obvious. Walk the walk? For sure, even though he has no legs and even though the medical ‘experts’ told him, as a child, not to expect too much from his life. Spencer West is proving people wrong, although that is not the thing that drives him.
Instead, a determination to inspire others to overcome their own obstacles and to meet challenges head on, and to help support people and communities in need, is motivating the 31-year-old to some quite astonishing achievements.
In recent times, he has returned to his home in Toronto having spent time in Tanzania. Here, he scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, reaching Uhuru Peak following a 19,341-foot climb. This, remember, is a man without legs.
‘I set out to climb Mount 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 [something] back to communities that need our help,’ explains a man who, having been born with a rare genetic disorder, had both his legs amputated as a small child. ‘Reaching the peak of Mount 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.’
Spencer, who had to negotiate tough jungle terrain and harsh desert lands before he even reached the base of Africa’s tallest mountain, climbed 80% of Kilimanjaro on his hands, using a special wheelchair only when the conditions left him no other choice. In the process, he raised more than $500,000 for the Free the Children charity, supporting much-needed clean water projects in Kenya.
Helping others is nothing new, because back home in Canada, Spencer – an accomplished motivational speaker – dedicates himself to talking to people about bullying and overcoming stereotypes, and about finding happiness and meaning in a material world.
That he knows what he is talking about is obvious. You see, Spencer West might not have legs, but that’s not the most important or interesting thing about a man using the tools at his disposal to help inspire others to redefine their own possibilities.
‘I don’t have legs – that’s the obvious thing,’ he adds. ‘But that doesn’t define who I am. What defines who I am is my name, what I do for my job and what I’m interested in. I’d rather be known for the work I do and the person I am than just being Spencer West without legs. From the time I was born, I was told I’d never walk or be a functioning member of society. Now I’ve climbed the highest mountain in Africa.’
Here in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, Spencer inspires us for so many reasons: for his positivity, for a power being put to such good use, for his drive and determination and his refusal to let unbelievable obstacles block his path. For his endeavor and his outlook, for his faith in communities and the good in people. For setting an example. For inspiring others. For helping people and touching their lives. For showing us all what can be done if we just redefine possible.
Such things inspire our OMs, for these are the qualities that underpin all our efforts here in the studio. Here’s to Spencer, for helping to motivate us to overcome our own obstacles . . .