Jonah Geier has a love of hiking that competes with his cerebral palsy (CP), and the hiking comes out on top.
Now 20 years old, the young man collect bottle caps, plays computer games, watches the news, and has been on more hikes than many other guys his age. He’s adored the outdoors all his life—a appreciation instilled by his parents, who studied natural resources at Utah State University. They liked the area so much, they made it their home.
“We’ve always been hikers so, when we had our children, we took them [on hikes] from infancy,” Jonah’s mother, Carla Zambreno, says.
Jonah has gone on hikes with his family ever since he was born, with his parents carrying him until he was 17 years old and weighed 70 pounds.
At this point he became too heavy for his mom and dad to handle, and a friend referred them to a web site that sells roller packs, which are similar to the “travois”, a sled used by Native Americans to transport items, now often used by sportsmen to pack gear.
The family reached out to the pack’s designer, who was happy to customize the device with a spring seat system and foot plates so that it could be used to carry a person. A seat belt secures Jonah so he won’t fall out.
The device worked so well that the family posted a picture of Jonah using it on a hike (featured photo at the top) to a “Share the Experience” photo contest for images taken at federal agencies, national parks, or Bureau of Land Management sites. The photo, which showed Jonah’s father pulling Jonah up to Delicate Arch, carried the caption, “Perseverance.”
Imagine the resolve required for a father to hike his disabled son to the Arch to fully experience the world-famous landmark structure, often seen in travel photos and books. Retired law enforcement officer James Geier hiked his 18-year-old son three miles, then 480 feet over slick-rock trails, and up red rock steps to share with Jonah a worldwide symbol of strength and endurance, something shared by the Arch and Jonah’s dad.
The photo gained the Geiers an honorable mention as a fan favorite, and it was one of the top ten photos chosen from among the over 20,000 submissions. It went viral and even made it to the U.S. Department of Interior’s Instagram account on Father’s Day this year. Since then, the Geiers have had attention from the Today Show, Good Morning America, and other national news shows.
Carla thinks it’s something about Jonah that makes the photo so popular. “People are naturally drawn to him,” she says. “People see something that emanates from him, and he’s approachable because he’s got a nice smile.” Which national park would you like to hike?
The top video is a short story about the Geiers’ trek up Delicate Arch, and the second video shows the tricked-out “travois” that helps Jonah happily blaze new trails.
Source: Desert News