With focus and years of experience, many people watched paraplegic athlete Lai Chi-wai buckled into his wheelchair and climb up one of Hong Kong’s towering skyscraper on 16 January.
After more than 10 hours, Lai managed to pull himself up more than 250 metres to the glass-panned building. He admittedly said that he was quite scared.
“Climbing up a mountain, I can hold onto rocks or little holes, but with glass, all I can really rely on is the rope I’m hanging off,” he said.
This is all in an effort to raise money for spinal cord patients. After more than 10 hours, the event raised US$670,639 (5.2 million Hong Kong dollars) in donation.
10 years ago, a car accident left the 37-year-old climber paralysed from the waist down. Before that, he had been crowned Asia champion four times and at one point was ranked eighth globally for rock climbing, according to Reuters.
After the accident, Lai continued climbing by attaching his wheelchair to a pulley system and using his upper body strength to pull himself. Five years ago, he climbed 495 metres up Lion Rock Mountain, a local landmark that in folk culture represents Hong Kong’s strength and grit.
“Apart from just living, I wondered what drives me? So I began to chase that, knowing that there was a possibility I could climb mountains, even in a wheelchair,” he said. “In a way, I forgot that I was a disabled person, I could still dream and I could still do what I liked doing.”
Even though Lai could not make it up the 300 metres tall Nina Tower in Hong Kong, he hopes that this climb will send a message.
“Some people don’t understand the difficulties of disabled people, some people think that we are always weak, we need help, we need assistance, we need people’s pity.
“But I want to tell everyone, it doesn’t have to be like that. If a disabled person can shine, they can at the same time bring about opportunity, hope, bring about light, they don’t have to be viewed as weak.”
You go, Lai! So what dreams are we chasing today?