Thursday, April 14, 2011

...On Rowan's Climb

On March 25th at approximately 2:30pm, BCVI received a call from 12-year-old Rowan Garel and his father Joe who had just arrived at the summit of Victoria Peak. Overwhelmed, exhausted and delighted, Rowan and Joe had done the trek to the top in just over one day, which is the average time it takes to reach that point.
Thanks to one of our major
corporate sponsors - Belize Telemedia Ltd.
Rowan was able to phone home!

“At no point in time, not one single time, did he complain,” Joe said of his brave son. Rowan recalls wanting to give up, “I thought about it, but I didn’t want to be remembered at the only blind person to try and then turn around and not make it.” This driven 12-year-old is not only the youngest to ever summit Victoria Peak, but is also the only person with any type of disability to accomplish this feat.

Rowan, Joe and their guides were greeted by a group of about 60 people, all family members, friends, supporters of Rowan’s cause and BCVI’s staff. The Welcome Back Picnic also brought together a couple of BCVIs young Rehab patients, Courtenay and Juan, who were thrilled to greet Rowan.
“It was emotional, you know, even some of my friends from summer camp were there to greet me and I really wasn’t expecting that,” Rowan said of the guests.

It's a daring adventure for anyone, especially for a 12-year-old boy, and even more so, for one who is blind. But, climbing the highest point in the country of Belize, Victoria Peak, is a challenge that Rowan was more than willing to take on for the blind and visually impaired children at BCVI.
Row and Joe on Victoria Peak!
Thanks to the Exclusive Airline of the
Ambassadors for Sight - Delta!

In 2010, the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI) faced the likelihood of not being able to carry out their Annual Summer Camp for blind children due to a lack of funding. The non-profit organization supports blind and visually impaired students year-round, with the Camps being the highlight for them and their families. While the donations trickled in and camp was successful, in facing this crisis, Rowan and his parents worried about the other kids not having the opportunity in 2011 and came up with the idea.

The Garels have been with BCVI since Rowan was a baby. Now, almost a teenager, and at the top of his 7th Grade class, Rowan is the model student and a wonderfully caring boy. When told about BCVIs struggle raising funds, his parents were offered the chance to send him to the U.S. for a few weeks to attend a summer camp. Although Rowan was excited at the idea, his heartfelt response was, "What about the other kids?" Many of the students and young children in the program come from underprivileged families, and are not fortunate enough to have such opportunities. So, Rowan and his parents decided to help raise funds themselves. And so came about the Climbing Ambassadors for Sight.

We hope that this venture will continue to raise awareness and funds to help support not only Summer Camp, but other educational and rehabilitative training that the organization provides to blind and visually impaired people throughout Belize.

BCVI Summer Camp 2010
Juan and his little brother enjoy the pool at Bacab EcoPark,
 who had sponsored our campers for the day.

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