Universal Sports and other sites today have posted that Chris Waddell, a former U.S. Adaptive Ski Team member and Paralympic champion was the first paraplegic to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

In August of 2006, paraplegic U.S. Army veteran Darol Kubacz and a team of other disabled vets made the climb of the world's tallest freestanding mountain (19,340 feet)

It's still an amazing accomplishment and regardless of the order Chris's accomplishment isn't diminished in this reporter's eyes.

"MT. KILIMANJARO, Tanzania -– Paralympic champion and U.S. Adaptive Ski Team alum Chris Waddell became the first paraplegic to reach the 19,340-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The One-Revolution team and Waddell began their journey of climbing to largest freestanding mountain in the world a week earlier.

Waddell wrote on his blog, "We summited today. Slept in the crater last night. Everyone’s asleep. Long day." Waddell and his team were reportedly on their way back down the mountain.

The climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro began Sept. 24. For six days, Waddell pressed through the pain and fatigue to reach the peak using the Marangu route (Coca Cola route). Friends say he continues to be an inspiration to the sport and all disabled sports.

Waddell was a promising Middlebury racer when a skiing accident left him paralyzed in 1988. Shortly after, he began skiing on a monoski. In less than two years, he was named to the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team. Waddell was on the team for 11 years, competing in four Paralympic Winter Games (plus three summer) winning 12 winter medals, becoming the most decorated male skier in Paralympic history. In 1994, he swept all four golds in Lillehammer, Norway.

Waddell spent much of the past few years planning and engineering a unique four-wheel cycling device to allow him to climb the highest mountain in Africa. He trained hours and hours on end near his home in Park City, Utah, and took the three-wheeler on training rides including Moab, Utah's famous White Rim Trail. Nothing, though, would compare to the challenges Waddell knew he would face on Kilimanjaro.

"Chris' accomplishment will bring greater awareness to the Paralympic movement," said U.S. Adaptive Ski Team Coach Ray Watkins. "It's not just about our U.S. Adaptive Ski Team, but about the Paralympic movement as a whole!"

"He has done something that very few people in this world have done," said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Adaptive Program Director Sandy Metzger. He'll do a lot to show what disabled people can do."

When on the team, Waddell was a team leader. He constantly was pushing himself and other athletes to work harder and perform better. In his career, he competed in both summer and winter Paralympics. He was recently among final nominees to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, with results of balloting expected to be announced soon.

"Chris was always one of the pacesetters in whatever workout we were doing. He was big in developing new levels of conditioning, especially for the sitting athletes on the Team," explained Watkins. "He tried everything we put in front of him and did it at a high level."

Recently, Waddell was asked to be a representative on the USSA Board of Directors representing adaptive skiing. Metzger said Waddell will bring great insight about the team and USSA.

"He was always a wonderful person to have on the team, a terrific attitude," expressed Metzger. "He has an infectious personality and when he meets people they're just drawn to him."

Photo and content U.S. Ski Team

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