When we first met Chris Waddell in 2007, he apologized for being tardy for our meeting. He wasn’t able to find a taxi and instead decided to trek the 2 miles on his own…in a wheelchair. We quickly realized this was no ordinary man.
Chris was a promising young skier at Middlebury in 1988 when a skiing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he was back on the slopes a year later. Twenty-two years later, the most decorated male skier in Paralympic history has devoted his life to traversing boundaries for the disabled through his non-profit, One Revolution. In addition to his “Nametags” program that challenges students to rethink the labels people place on one another, Chris became the first paraplegic to summit 19,000 ft tall Mt. Kilimanjaro through a custom-designed “handcycle.”
In his work with Athletes for Hope, Chris has been an inspiration to all those who cross his path. Speaking as part of an Athletes for Hope panel at the Beyond Sport Conference, Chris grabbed the audience’s attention immediately as he spoke of his life’s adversity and resilience and deeply moved several other professional athletes in the room, including Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm, and Tony Hawk.