Epilog

The Pelion team members returned from Mt. Rainier on the 4th of July, Independence Day, and were treated as heroes. During the evening of the 4th, at a salmon bake at Jim Whittaker's home on the shores of Puget Sound, Ted Koppel and his TV crew made interviews. These interviews and clips from the media over the past week became the basis of a full half-hour Nightline show.

On July 5th Chuck flew home to meet his new children.  Fitz returned home to re-connect with his wife and his new daughter who was born two weeks before the trip started. The rest of us relaxed.

On July 7th the rest of the Pelion team traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet President Reagan the next day. On Wednesday morning, July 8, several of the team appeared on different TV programs. Rich and Judy were on Good Morning America, and Justin and Sheila were on the Today Show.

Later in the morning there was a private tour of the White House and a reception with the President in the Rose Garden. The President shook hands with each of us. I presented the bag of jelly beans and the American Flag which had been carried to the summit for the President. He spoke of the courage of the climbers and  the spirit they represented.


     President Reagan accepting jelly beans

He said, "When you came down from that mountain it wasn't the experienced leading the disabled; but rather those who could see leading those who could not; those who could hear helping those who could not. The tremendous bond that was forged by this experience, where you complemented each other and joined together to accomplish a great goal, is a significant lesson in what all of us as Americans can accomplish if we work together."

Pelion was undertaken to provide a demonstration of the capabilities of the disabled.  The film that Rick Ridgeway took was sold to Home Box Office and made into an award winning film, "To Climb A Mountain", and all the tapes that Doug Wakefield made were edited into a half-hour National Public Radio program called "The Inner Challenge"  (see insert)..

The overwhelming response by the media and the cheers from a large number of people suggested that Pelion was more than a statement about the capabilities of people with physical limitations. Pelion was a statement about human courage and adventure.

After returning from the climb all members of the team were asked to speak to numerous groups as individuals telling their own story and as a group of two or more.  Many talks that I gave were to disabled groups and people working with the disabled. The example of Pelion had encouraged them to explore new avenues of activity and to provide greater levels of opportunity and access for the disabled. Each time new opportunities are found because of Pelion, a breath of summit air makes the eagle feathers dance; and the medicine of belief and human spirit is offered to the four winds, to the heavens and to the earth.