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
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
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.