Help Ammon

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I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone with the audacity to believe he can fly. I’m even more impressed by those who actually figure out a way to make it happen. So whenever I see one of these wonderful maniacs fall I want to do all that I can to help them get back on their feet. I’m willing to lend a hand because they’re the ones who inspire the rest of us to believe that anything is possible. My friend Ammon McNeely needs some assistance to get back into the world and one day fly again.

I first met Ammon in Yosemite Valley in 2005. An accomplished big wall climber he was part of a team with Timmy O’Neill and Cedar Wright to make a historic ascent of the granite giant El Capitan. Ammon was tapped for this mission to help Timmy’s brother Sean O’Neill complete his first multi-day climbing objective. But what made this trip particularly memorable was the fact that Sean is a paraplegic. Without the use of his legs, using only the strength of his arms Sean left his wheelchair behind and made it to the top of El Cap after a climb of 5 days on the wall. Ammon led almost every pitch.

A classic Yosemite climber Ammon has the generous spirit of a dreamer. With a well cultivated sense of humor he has adopted a larger than life persona as swashbuckling pirate. As he the flies the Jolly Roger flag Ammon leads a rebellious life of adventure that I truly admire. Over the years we’ve become friends and I’ve been incredibly impressed by the passion and energy with which he pursues his every endeavor. Pushing the envelope of performance both as a climber and a BASE jumper he constantly demonstrates the many things a person can accomplish with hard work and discipline.

When the story came out at the end of October that Ammon took a hard full after his latest BASE jump from a high cliff in Utah I was immediately concerned for his wellbeing. I was very happy to hear that despite a horrific compound fracture of his leg he’s expected to make an excellent recovery. But if anyone tries to blame Ammon’s adventurous lifestyle for his injuries it’s important to realize that that even though what he does is dangerous it does not mean that Ammon is reckless. And like anyone in our community he deserves our best wishes and perhaps a bit of our financial support to help him make it through this very difficult time.

Although I don’t know the specific circumstances of his accident I know that Ammon puts a very high premium on safety. And just as any unforeseen event can suddenly result in tragedy there is no reason to assign blame or to chastise Ammon for making bad choices. Many might rail against him for foolishly pursuing ambitions that constantly put him in harm’s way. But I for one applaud his unconventional spirit and I admire his courage for pushing the limits of his human existence and learning how to fly. Even though like Icarus he might have flown too close to the sun I refuse to fault him for daring to dream.

I am happy to help Ammon with a small donation set up on his behalf: http://www.donationto.com/Help-Ammon And even though there are many out there who object to supporting the result of man throwing himself off a cliff I want to suggest that an unfortunate occurrence such as this could happen to anyone fully engaged in a life spent defying limitations. If he were hit by a bus while on his bicycle to work or crushed under the gears of some heavy piece of industrial equipment I would be no less inclined to offer assistance in getting his life back together.  You are indeed unlikely to break your leg playing it safe in a mundane existence following a path toward mediocrity. But with great ambition often comes the risk of loss or injury. It’s a far better thing to take a chance on the consequences than to take only the safest course of action. And because Ammon encourages me to push a little harder to face my fears and stand in the face of danger I’m glad to make this contribution toward his recovery and encourage him to get well soon. I hope to see him again go after his dreams and one day fly again.

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Author:James

I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

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