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.   

 

LIFE'S SUMMITS -BIG AND SMALL

On the way to accomplishing your goals and reaching summits is the important process of finding the gifts to get you through the struggle to overcome and transcend what barriers, obstacles or challenges are in your way.

We had a major milestone day.

We crossed the halfway point to Santiago after 18 long, hot, hard, fun, tedious, dispiriting, inspiring and transformational days and moments- physically, mentally and spiritually!

That said, at this very moment, my body is betraying me.  My heels are bleeding from the extreme dryness of my calluses and I am coming down with something as I have the chills and it is 90 degrees outside.  It is going to be an early night.

 

400 km down 400 km to go! 

400 km down 400 km to go! 

When the days get long and the feet get tired savor the moments that will never happen again. 

Sunset before the halfway point. 

Sunset before the halfway point. 

Sometimes the end goal like Santiago is daunting when you are going 15-20 miles a day hiking.  When you put that aside and enjoy each and every sunset and sunrise over  Spain it's not so overwhelming.  Just take it step by step -we are averaging 35,000 of them per day.

Light before the moment

Light before the moment

As we closed in on the halfway mark, the warmth of the sun and the brightness of  the day broke to gates of progress - the halfway marker monument on the Camino de Santiago!

Sahagun, Spain

Sahagun, Spain

A pilgrimage going on over 1200 years has shaped the history of Spain and people around the world of all backgrounds, beliefs and countries of origin. 

That one very special step

That one very special step

Certificate of complete for 1st half of Camino de Santiago  

Gifts great and small

Gifts great and small

Earlier I mentioned gifts to help you get to where you need to reach a summit in your life.

 The gifts to us so far have been the beauty of nature, daily sunrises and sunsets, the solitude of a long walk, the joys of wearing sandals with blisters and most of all the people!  

We have met so many people that inspire us with their life stories that it would be impossible to share them all in detail.

 But, make no mistake, they affirm that human journey is about something bigger than all of us and we are all getting new eyes to see each and every person we encounter. 

Strong people ask for help

Strong people ask for help

They say men don't ask for directions when they are lost.  Not my crew, Father Loc Trinh, Mark Gietzen, Jack Smith and myself.  We have pulled each other through from pain, injury, sickness, difficult news from home and more.  

We are hitting stride as we gun for Santiago knowing that the distance we have traveled is more than we have yet to go. 

Modern Camino sculpture  

Modern Camino sculpture  

It would be a mistake to call the Camino de Santiago a Catholic thing or one of those religious pilgrimages.  To many it is, but the a large majority of those hiking the Camino de Santiago are choosing to break from the modern life and retreat from the sounds, technology and pace that it demands of us.  Over 250,000 people will walk this year, the same amount as in the Middle Ages.  

Traditional peregrines statue

Traditional peregrines statue

Who says that traditions must die and fade into the dustbin of history? 

Helping Hand

Helping Hand

The biggest thing I have learned so far in my life journey, is that for the big and small summits is the realization that you never get to the summit all on your own. 

You can have the desire, you can plan, prepare and train but the biggest thing is those who help support, guide, inspire and give of themselves so you can get there.  

So, the next time you share with everyone your accomplishments and summits be sure to give a huge heaping dose of credit to all those who were with you and the many more behind the scenes who believed in you. 

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 17th to celebrate Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day.  If you are interested in supporting this project. You can go to:  www.classy.org/billbarkeley

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