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.   

March to Santiago

Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day! 

We made it across Spain after 33 days backpacking to raise awareness on Usher Syndrome the leading cause of deaf-blindness In the world.  So thrilled to have my three guides and the VSP Global all make it into Santiago.   

It was truly the test of endurance and the engagement of all the senses. 

Waterfall with Own The Equiinox t-shirt 

Waterfall with Own The Equiinox t-shirt 

It would be a shame if all people thought of the Camino de Santiago is that it is simply a religious pilgrimage.  It is way beyond that.

It truly is about taking time out to reflect on one's own life journey.  It helps you see yourself in the past, present and the future.  The modern world makes Inordinate demands on one to respond, act and constantly be stimulated. There is truly little time for reflection, renewal and reengagement from a world that is racing 24/7 to destinations unknown.

 Central tile in Santiago Square

 Central tile in Santiago Square

When I walked into the square after over 500 miles, I had so much  on my mind of everything that had happened over the past 33 days.   

VSP GLOBAL t-shirt for #USHEQX Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day. A couple was chosen from an essay contest to join us.  The names on the shirt are all the others that entered and did not get selected.  

VSP GLOBAL t-shirt for #USHEQX Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day. A couple was chosen from an essay contest to join us.  The names on the shirt are all the others that entered and did not get selected.  

As we hiked into Santiago, I was struck by all the people who have helped me accomplish projects that seemed improbable or impossible over and over again.  My wife, kids, family, friends, community and all the people I have met with hearing and vision loss have gotten me to this point.  Many times, I pinch myself that I get the chance to do adventures around the world and have an opportunity to try and elevate others as so many have for me over the course of my life. 

Team selfie on the St. James Cathedral Square. Thanks Jack Smith, Mark Gietzen and Father LocTrinh!

Team selfie on the St. James Cathedral Square. Thanks Jack Smith, Mark Gietzen and Father LocTrinh!

Team VSP Global.  Thanks to JIm McGrann for bringing in his global team to hike, film and make sure that we made it into Santaigo.  #VSPVisionCares

Team VSP Global.  Thanks to JIm McGrann for bringing in his global team to hike, film and make sure that we made it into Santaigo.  #VSPVisionCares

Packing Up for March on Santiago

Packing Up for March on Santiago

Early to rise.

Early to rise.

The entire team endured a lot in the last few days most notably getting up the dark to hike for a few hours each morning before the sunrise. They endured blisters, sleeplessness, tired muscles and sore feet but never skipped a beat.  They were engaged having fun, learning and meeting people from around the world.  Most notably, they kept telling all the people on the hike about the Bill Barkeley / Usher Syndrome Coalition World Awareness Day project.

8 hours of pouring rain

8 hours of pouring rain

We had the goal and we had to get there.  All the physical discomforts disappeared as we drowned in our gear.  Everybody kept moving to keep the cold and wind at bay.  No complaints just pressing on.  The goal was bigger than all of us so when we looked back after hot showers it found that the hike had been fun, memorable and filled with some good stories.

Kyle and Michael filming our project.  Jim McGrann and I talking at the cafe about No Barriers Life Elements and leadership.

Kyle and Michael filming our project.  Jim McGrann and I talking at the cafe about No Barriers Life Elements and leadership.

I hope you enjoyed the journey through the lessons learned by a deaf-blind adventurer.  Many people have gotten me there and if it helps others on life's journey then it's all good.

The No Barriers Life Elements

The No Barriers Life Elements

The No Barriers Life Elements are: 

Vision- Define your purpose that allows you to give your best to the world.

Reach Beyond Yourself -Move beyond your comfort zone to grow and reach your goals

Pioneering - Persevere through challenges to innovate

Rope Team - Collaborate and connect with others to grow strong communities 

Alchemy - Harness life experience into optimism

Summits - Find the gifts earned through struggle

Elevate - Impact the world as a leader who serves

Final village walk  

Final village walk  

Tunnel of trees to Santiago - Jim and Taryn McGrann 

Tunnel of trees to Santiago - Jim and Taryn McGrann 

Cathedral of St. James - Compostela de Santiago  

Cathedral of St. James - Compostela de Santiago  

Glorious view of what we hiked over 500 miles to see! 

Father Loc Trinh

Father Loc Trinh

My hiking guide Father Loc Trinh celebrated his 24th anniversary as a priest by celebrating Mass at the cathedral since he walked 33 days! Beautiful moment. 

Sun fades on a glorious and special day

Sun fades on a glorious and special day

The sun set and the adventure did not end.  If one does the Camino de Santiago they must travel to the "end of the world". 

Tomorrow will be my last post on this special adventure! 

Ride to the "end of the world?" 

Ride to the "end of the world?" 

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 hiked into Santiago on September 17th in celebration of Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day. #USHEQX #VSPVisionCares

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.

Bill

Light in the Distance

We are 31 days in.

In less than 48 hours, we will have hiked over 500 miles in 33 days into Santiago finishing the Compostela de Santiago. 

We have yet to experience the final moments. I will not attempt to use words to convey everything.

You have been able to get glimpses of the journey as we have had the good fortune to keep going and persevere to the end.  God willing, we will make it to what was once known in the Middle Ages as the hike to the "end of the world."

An idea to walk across Spain and experience one of the world's greatest treks, has become much larger than that.  

People who have vision bigger than themselves and who have the desire to elevate and serve others in the world have made this possible for me as a deaf-blind adventurer, advocate & storyteller.   

A special early thanks to Jack Smith, Father Loc Trinh and Mark Gietzen - you gave over 30 days of your life to share inspiration and hope to others around the world. 

The vision of 3 guides and myself drew others in.

We have people on the trail who have adopted us, cheered us on and will meet us in Santiago as a celebration of our shared human journey to elevate ourselves and others around the globe.  I shared some of their stories and everyday there are more.

Vision Service Plan, aka VSP Global, #VSPVisionCare and JimMcGrann, it's CEO and President has taken our vision, reach and potential to elevate others in the world to the cause of vision loss and helping people see more clearly, to a whole new level.  

Jim McGrann, a leader who elevates others,  put 7 people on the trail with us in Santiago in #USHEQX t-shirts and they are sharing this story with their truly global vision community that touches and serves over 80 MILLION people.

We have their gift of a bright, inquistive and insightful South African filmmaker who is capturing everything as we hike towards the light of Santiago so that we can share the message about vision loss and helping others overcome and transcend it  for years to come. 

We set out to share a simple story and journey of a deaf-blind adventurer with Usher Syndrome to mark Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day and see where that goes.

What we found was that by setting a vision bigger than ourselves, we had an opportunity to reach beyond ourselves, pioneer, go global and make a meaningful lasting impact by shattering the barriers people in their lives face regardless if they they have known disabilities or not.

In short, by being willing to serve with the intent to "elevate" ourselves, family, friends, community and the world, we are going to make it to our destination.  

We will hike to the "end of the world" and reap the rewards of taking on life's barriers or challenges.  We will overcome.  More importantly, we will transcend, we will all be stronger, more confident, and have new skills and end experiences to keep going...step by step, step by step, step by step to an ever-elevating life and new summits large and small over the course of the mountain ranges we call life.