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  Tom Whittaker, first disabled person to conquer Everest, to be honored by the Queen of England


Tom Whittaker, the first person with a disability to reach the summit of Mount Everest, will be awarded the Most Excellent Order Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Adventurer and pioneer Tom Whittaker, the first person with a disability to reach the summit of Mount Everest, will be awarded the Most Excellent Order Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. The Royal Investiture will take place Nov. 29 at Buckingham Palace.

The son of a British army officer, Whittaker is being recognized by the government of the United Kingdom for his services to disability and mountaineering.

On route to becoming a prominent mountaineer and outdoor educator, Whittaker traveled to Canada and the United States only to have his dreams shattered in 1979 when his car was struck by a drunk driver. Despite broken legs and crushed feet, Whittaker declined pain medication so that he could plead his case with the surgeon. His resolve paid off, as the original prognosis to amputate both legs was revised and he only lost his right foot.

Armed with a tenacious will and relentless drive, Whittaker refused to let the disability keep him from his passion for adventure. He spent nine years and made three harrowing attempts to achieve a lifelong dream and in 1998, with an artificial right foot, Whittaker reached the 29,035-foot (8,849.87 meters) summit of Mount Everest.

Not being one to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and not share the experience, Whittaker had also set his sights on helping others. In 1981, he founded a group at Idaho State University - Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group (C.W. HOG). Currently celebrating its 25th year, C.W. HOG is a peer-support group that uses wilderness adventure to create a four-wheel drive attitude in people with disabilities.

In 1998, Whittaker was joined by five severely disabled C.W. HOG members at Everest base camp (17,500 feet / 5,334 meters). Whittaker has extended his altruistic vision and expertise by creating a leadership course, the proceeds of which benefit the handicapped.

In 2006 Whittaker launched "7 Steps to Leading High Achieving Teams," a course for business executives wanting to develop and lead self-sustaining teams. The online course uses documentary film to take managers on his landmark Everest expedition. Using a seven-step learning progression, they grow in their knowledge of themselves, teamwork and leadership. Each course sold provides enough funding to provide a prosthetic limb to a person in need. The course is offered through Whittaker's partnership with Gatlin Education Services. For more on Tom Whittaker see here.




 

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