Trevor Hahn spent his life enjoying the outdoors, playing sports, and hiking. When glaucoma took his sight five years ago, he thought that would be the end of his mountain climbing days. But, then he met Melanie Knecht.
Melanie was born with spina bifida and has spent her life in a wheelchair. Still, she grew up with a love for the outdoors and spent many weekends camping. Despite her disability, Melanie continues to be active and attends adaptive classes on a regular basis.
Melanie and Trevor first met at an adaptive boxing class, then again at an adaptive rock climbing class. Before long, they developed a friendship and learned about each other’s shared love of the outdoors.
The pair ultimately came up with an idea to combine their strengths to form a hiking “team”.
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According to Melanie, she is the eyes and Trevor is the legs of the team. She rides securely on Trevor’s back and acts as his eyes as he hikes trails around Colorado. Melanie says she “describe[s] everything [she sees] and exactly how Trevor needs to move” during their hikes.
The innovative technique works for the pair and they are currently training to complete a fourteener, which is climbing a mountain that’s over 14,000 feet tall!
Aside from the joy they get from defying the odds, Melanie and Trevor enjoy hiking together because they don’t feel like a burden to one another. They like that they can each give something to the other in return.
It’s extra special for Trevor to help his friend experience the feeling of being on a mountain top for the first time. He told “Good Morning America”, “It made me so happy to help someone experience what I’ve been able to experience my whole life. Just getting on top of a mountain, a car can’t get to it, you just feel that sense of accomplishment. The best part is being able to make her smile. That gives me purpose.”
These two friends are such an inspiration and proof that you can do so much more with someone else than you can by yourself.
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