Thursday, October 11, 2018

No Barriers II

TigerBlog has known Eddie Timanus for a long time.

Eddie is a USA Today writer - and five-time Jeopardy champion - who covers national men's lacrosse. One of TigerBlog's favorite things on Twitter, other than Princeton Athletics highlights, is Eddie's song lyrics as he says goodnight to the "Twitterverse" each night.

He also seems to go to bed rather early, but that's okay. TigerBlog can usually figure out the song, since Eddie leans heavily to the classic rock genre.

Eddie's a good man. He often tweets about his son, whom he refers to as "da kiddo," and his cat, as well as Final Jeopardy questions and of course college athletics. As the Twitterverse goes, Eddie brings a refreshingly wholesome approach.

Among Eddie's great gifts is his sense of humor, which he displays easily in person and which will come through on Twitter.

In fact, he'll often make some fun of himself regarding one feature that TB has neglected to mention yet. Eddie Timanus is blind.

When TB sees him at the NCAA lacrosse championships each year, or during the season at some point, Eddie is accompanied by his father Chuck, who serves as his guide. And as his eyes at the games.

TigerBlog thought of Eddie and Chuck as he watched another blind son with his father yesterday. This time it was the amazing Erik Weihenmayer and his father Ed.

Erik was the featured speaker at last night's Princeton Varsity Club Jake McCandless Speaker Series event. It was the second time Erik has spoken, as he also did so in the same building back in 2005.

This time around, Erik reminded TB of why he remembered him as such a great speaker. From the first second he starts to talk, he just grabs the entire room, which hangs on every word he says.

It doesn't hurt that his story is amazing. He's blind, and yet he has not allowed that to slow him down at all.

Erik spoke about the way his father - a Princeton football captain, member of the Class of 1962 and Marine Corps fighter pilot in Vietnam - encouraged him not to let his blindness stop him from doing the things he wanted to do. Ed spoke about how parental instincts want you to protect your children from danger but this was more important.

And so, with his father's guidance, Erik set off on a lifetime of adventure that would be difficult to conceive for anyone, let alone a blind man. In his lifetime Erik has climbed the "Seven Summits," which represents the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. He has run marathons. Most recently he has kayaked the 70 rapids of the Grand Canyon.

He talks about these achievements as if they're commonplace, no big deal for a blind guy or anyone else.

It doesn't hurt that he's also funny. For instance, during yesterday's talk at a luncheon prior to his evening address, he said all of the following:

* while showing a video of his whitewater rafting in the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon: "What did I learn? I learned why there aren't a lot of a blind kayakers."

* a few moments later, when he disappeared briefly under the water of the rapids: "Don't worry. He lives."

* just before the video, as he asked how many people in the audience had ever been to the Grand Canyon: "don't raise your hands."

* responding to a question about the team he worked with to help him get to the top of Mount Everest: "They were going to bring me 100 yards up and say we were at the summit and save us all a lot of work.

Weihenmayar has a foundation and a book both entitled "No Barriers," and it's somewhat self-explanatory. He finds no barriers in the world, and his foundation takes that spirit and uses it to literally change the lives of so many people who might otherwise have given up.

When Erik speaks, he talks about this friend and that friend, all of whom have had catastrophic events in their lives, all of whom refused to be stilled by them, all of whom have gone on to push through any way they could. It's one inspirational tale after another, all with Erik Weihenmayer as the point person.

There was a great moment at the luncheon, during a Q&A session after Weihenmayar's short talk there. One of the people in the audience was football player Joe Percival, whose mother has lost most of her vision. If you missed the story about the Percival family, try HERE and HERE.

His mom, Joe said, was taking up marathon running.

There's nobody better than Erik Weihenmayar, of course, to give him and his mother advice. There's nobody better than Erik Weihenmayar to inspire her.

There are no barriers in his world. Why should there be barriers in anyone's?

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