British Army Veteran Becomes First Double Above-Knee Amputee To Climb Kilimanjaro
A British Army veteran who lost most of both his legs in an incident in Afghanistan recently became the first double above-knee amputee to make it to the summit of the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro.
As well as a broken pelvis and tail bone, James lost both legs above the knee and - in that instant - his ability to walk.
Naturally, adjusting to the new life that he'd been dealt took time. James gained weight, suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression, but with the help of his family, he managed to get back to enjoying his life.
After deciding to better himself, James dropped a load of weight and began training. He regained his fitness, and with it, became a para-athlete and appeared at the Invictus Games in 2018.
During the games in Sydney, he competed in the Wheelchair Basketball and Sitting Volleyball events. He won silver and bronze medals at the event, but more importantly, made friends with another athlete called Darren Young.
The pair then decided to tackle Kilimanjaro together. Last month, they achieved their goal.
James told LADbible: "The idea of the climb came about when I was watching extreme Everest with ant Middleton after I came back from competing at the 2018 Invictus Games.
"I posted on social media that I would love to climb Everest despite having no legs. One of my teammates from the games came up with the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro.
"I agreed straight away and the training began in January 2019 by climbing mountains in the Lake District such as Helvellyn and the Yorkshire Moors near to where I live."
No matter how hard you train, trying to achieve something that has never been done before is going to prove difficult.
This was no different.
James continued: "It was the hardest thing I've done in my life, physically and mentally.
"I stopped twice on summit day and decided I wasn't not going anymore.
"After a long talk with my inner self and help from my team I got up and got moving and 14-plus hours later we reached the top."
"I sat there for a bit and started crying with joy.
"It was amazing but also very taxing on my body. If I had never completed it I would have been in a dark hole again."
That's the point, though. James, Darren, and the rest of the team have so far raised more than £20,000 for charities that help veterans and provide mental health care."
You can donate to James' chosen charities here.
Crucially, James added: "I suffer with my mental health, and I wanted to show people in a similar situation that with the right mindset you can achieve anything you want to achieve."
That's a message we can all get behind.
Featured Image Credit: James Rose