One evening of January 2008, a 23-year-old young man was running frantically toward the ocean to extinguish the fire that was burning every inch of his body. This accident took place when Colin O'Brady of Oregon, United States was on a backpacking trip across the world and was attempting a local custom of fire jump-roping stunt in Thailand. He tripped over the burning kerosene-soaked rope and suffered second and third-degree burns to nearly 25 percent of his body. His legs and feet were gravely damaged and the doctors informed that he might never be able to walk normally again.
Fast forward 10 years and 11 months, he became the first ever human to cross Antarctica, the coldest and harshest continent in the world, alone and unassisted. It took him 53 days to make the impossible first a reality.
I've been dragging an almost 375lb (170kg) sledge for 12-13 hours per day through the coldest harshest place in the world. - Colin
Colin lost so much weight during this expedition that his wristwatch would slip off and he became scared to look at his unclothed body.
Colin's feat amplifies the fact that we can do anything if we train our mind to be determined and positive. Of course, physical strength plays a part, too. He trusted his will power and inner strength over believing what the doctors told him. He took his first step a month after his accident and was determined to make a full recovery.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." - Quote from Coach Carter, the movie.
A BBC report states that he recovered and went on to race in triathlons before climbing each of the Seven Summits - the highest peaks on every continent. He has also skied to both the north and south pole and hiked to the highest point in every US state. Throughout it all, he has posted words of inspiration on Instagram, and used his satellite phone to take a question each night from one of the thousands of students who have followed his solo expedition.
Colin uploaded the above photograph on his Instagram with this caption:
"I can’t believe I been out here all alone for 50 days. Even having lived it, I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. This wind storm still has not subsided so I spent another day getting beat down. Fingers crossed I catch a break on the weather soon. I’ve been writing a lot about the mental game as it’s clearly the most crucial part of this challenge (or any challenge for that matter). However today I want to honor my body and health. I wholeheartedly believe that nothing in life is more important that being healthy. Without that it’s hard to do or do fully."
"I’m so fortunate to have parents that instilled that in me from a young age, teaching me the importance of healthy eating and exercise. My dad is an organic farmer so I guess you could say it’s in my blood. Despite feeling exhausted and worn out, I’m grateful for having lived a healthy lifestyle, for without that I’m certain my body would have given up by now."
"Nothing like taking a 25 mph headwind to the face all day with the ambient temperature -27C. That makes for a bone chilling windchill of -80...I can barely count that low. Needless to say it was a bit of a sufferfest today, but I still managed a full day out here. On a day like today this picture sums up the highlight of my day as I shovel my last scoop of snow to secure my tent, knowing I get to crawl inside to a warm stove and dinner to escape the elements for a bit."
Caption from his Instagram feed:
Day 8: ANTARCTICA FIREWORKS: Today I had the worst weather of the expedition so far. Nothing like taking a 20-30mph headwind to the face all day when it’s already -20 degrees out. However on a more positive note, one of the benefits of it being this cold is you can make your own fireworks. This is me taking a pot of boiling water from my dinner and throwing it into the air. Boiling water instantly turns to ice!! That also gives you a sense of what the wind felt like on my body all day. Brutal, and it’s only going to get colder as I get closer to the South Pole. Nevertheless another day in the books!!
What an incredible feat! Let Colin's achievement inspire each of us to set high goals for ourselves and give them our best shot.
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