Bill Barkeley

deaf-blind adventurer, advocate & storyteller (public speaker)

 

Bill is a deaf-blind adventurer & public speaker (storyteller) that speaks and does adventure projects to people around the world - disabled or not - on building a pioneering, adventuring spirit and overcoming the challenges in their lives.  Bill's work is about helping others get to a better place in this world and paying it forward in a life that has been rich beyond his wildest imagination.

Bill's groundbreaking climb covered on Good Morning America was to share a personal journey about building a life within the context of your abilities and disabilities.  He is a pioneer with assistive technologies for the hearing and vision impaired and the deaf-blind. 

Bill is one of 15,000 in the United States and 100,000 in the world with Usher's Syndrome which progressively robs its victims of both hearing and vision over the course of their lifetime.   

See why in many ways he believes that it may be the best thing that ever happened to him.   

What's Your Story?

Here are some of the people we are meeting on the Camino de Santiago Trail as we cross Spain. 

Pope Francis has stuck in my mind from the deaf-blind papal audience I went to two years ago  He encouraged the world to focus more on encounter. That is, meeting every person we meet everyday with significance and meaning.  He was telling us the modern world was focused more on exclusion, differences and what divides us.  Give love and we get it back in spades. On the hiking trail, it is all about encounter as you hike and the personal stories of the people we are meeting are amazing. 

Pope Francis has stuck in my mind from the deaf-blind papal audience I went to two years ago  He encouraged the world to focus more on encounter. That is, meeting every person we meet everyday with significance and meaning.  He was telling us the modern world was focused more on exclusion, differences and what divides us.  Give love and we get it back in spades.

On the hiking trail, it is all about encounter as you hike and the personal stories of the people we are meeting are amazing. 

What goes around comes around... 

Mary Lou runs a field clinic at the morning coffee stop

Mary Lou runs a field clinic at the morning coffee stop

Mary Lou is from Texas and she is a physical therapist.  Her husband Dennis passed away last year and she came to walk the Camino to spread his ashes.  Father Loc Trinh blessed his ashes and those of another friend.  

Dennis was a cyclist and dreamed of visiting the Tour de France and never made it.  Mary Lou decided that since the Camino is so close to the Tour de France course she would walk over 500 miles to reflect on the next chapter of her life and honor her husband in a very special and personal way.

We ran into her later and really were in bad shape. Father Loc's Achilles surgery had left scar tissue and the rigors of the trail left him with no option - he could not wear shoes.  He spent 3 days hiking in worn sandals.  Mary Lou gave him electro-stimulation therapy,  cold gel and taping to get him back in action.  

The circle of generosity works that way on the Camino.

As we left a German hiker gave up a heel pad to Father Loc too. 

Father and Daughter - France

Father and Daughter - France

This story made us all well-up in tears.  We met at the hostal we were staying at.  As we chatted about ourselves, it just kept getting more and more interesting.  She is a lawyer for a non-profit in Paris that serves the blind.  She helps and advocates for them in France where the blind have many of the same challenges as in the United States.   I was on the Camino to do the Usher Syndrome Coalition project for World Usher's Day by arriving in Santiago on September 17th. #USHEQX #BILLSDEAFBLINDCAMINO

Then, we asked why are you on Camino? She looked at dad and they both welled up.  She lost a bet she said and was happy she did.  

Last fall, her brother and the dad's son was shot 3 times as a Paris policeman.  It was just before the big terrorist incident.  They were told that he would not make it with 2 bullets to the head.  As the hours and days went on they made the bet to walk the Camino if the brother/son made it.  He was in a coma for 3 weeks.  He lived.  He is a changed from the trauma physically but they say he is still the same to them.  The Paris police community have rallied to support, he does not complain  and he knew that was the risk as a policeman.  

They are on Camino in gratitude for what they came so close to losing. 

 ...and the stories go on and on.

 

This adventure project is to celebrate a life-long journey with Usher Syndrome- a devastating disease that robs its victims of their hearing and vision progressively decade by decade. There are no treatments or cures.  After 33 days of hiking, my guides and I will be arriving in Santiago on September 16th in celebration of Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day. 

If you are interested in supporting this project, you can go to www.classy.org/billbarkeley

Thanks for reading and feel free to share with the world. 

We finally upgraded Father Loc to the performance sandal category.  The Camino is not the beach Padre!

We finally upgraded Father Loc to the performance sandal category.  The Camino is not the beach Padre!