Elisha "Eli" Reimer has entered the record books. Last week the 15-year-old became the first teen with Down syndrome to climb more than 17,000 feet and reach the first base camp on Mount Everest in Nepal. The 10-day climb helped the teen raise more than $85,000 for the Elisha Foundation, which was created by his parents and named after him to help families care for people with special needs.
"It was humbling, it was inspiring, just an amazing moment," father Justin Reimer, who accompanied his son, told HLN this weekend. "He was actually leading us on the trail and we were the ones feeling our own sense of disability." Eli's health, like that of all Everest climbers, was monitored every step of the journey.
As documented on the Foundation's Instagram page, Eli and his father set out for China and Nepal on March 1. They reached base camp on March 14, where Eli was photographed in front holding a flag promoting his trek. (They did not ascend to the second base camp, which is at an elevation of 21,300 feet.) He returned to the U.S. on March 22, the day after World Down Syndrome Day.
Justin told HLN that the climb was intended as a fundraiser but perhaps more importantly as a testament to the abilities of people like his son. "Eli's life and the lives of those with disability have infinite worth and they can attempt great things," he said.
Eli was not the first person with Down syndrome to climb Everest, although he was the first teen. Justin told Time magazine that a 35-year-old man from the U.K. was the first person with Down syndrome to make the journey.
The Elisha Foundation has made its original $85,000 fund-raising goal and is now aiming for $100,000.
In related news, an 80-year-old Japanese man named Yuichiro Miura hopes to become the oldest person to ever climb to the top of Mount Everest. He has already completed the journey two times, most recently in 2008, the same year the current record-holder, then-76-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan, reached the summit. Miura's journey would make him the first octogenarian to make the climb.