Ellen Weihenmayer grew up in Jay, Florida,
which is rural as rural can be. Ellen's family grew vegetables, made
their own clothes and bartered for most everything they needed.
Ellen was a majorette, popular and was crowned "Miss Soybean
Queen" in high school.
She met Ed Weihenmayer, a Marine attack-jet
pilot, in Pensacola, Florida. He dared not approach. She winked
at him. Twice
They married and had Erik. Erik began to lose
his eyesight at an early age. It was Ellen who insisted that Erik
attend a regular school. She refused to send him to a school for
the blind. Erik vacuumed, cleaned his room, rode his bike. "If
he bumped the vacuum into the wall, he bumped the vacuum into the
wall," recalled Ed.
Erik inherited Ellen's sense of mischievousness
- he loved throwing eggs at cars - mooning seniors - although as
his sight worsened - he began to feel lost. It was wrestling which
helped him make the transition into blindness - particularly throwing
a sighted kid to the mat.
Ellen died in a car accident when Erik was
16. The family began to hike and trek as a means to cope with her
death. Ed would steer Erik down mountainous terrain. "It was
the beginning of something pretty cool," says Erik. Twenty
years later, Erik stood on the top of Mount Everest.
"I've been looking for my mother in all
the wrong places," Erik says. "When I'd visit her grave,
I could never find her there... she is the crunch of snow under
my feet. She is the rock warmed by the sun. She is the wind in my
For more information on Erik log on to www.touchthetop.com.