Expedition Overview

The Mission

To encourage 1 million people to take the No Barriers Pledge. A pledge that says, “what’s within me is stronger than what’s in my way.” Our challenge will push others to pick a significant barrier holding them back, attack it, and shatter it into a million pieces.

Grand Canyon Facts

  • 2 Blind solo kayakers, Erik Weihenmayer & Lonnie Bedwell
  • Dates: September 7,2014-September 28,2014
  • Length: 277-mile paddling expedition from Lee’s Ferry to Pierce Ferry, Arizona (21 days)
  • 18 Team Members: 10 kayakers, 3 film shooters, 5 raft guides
  • No Barriers USA is sponsoring the expedition, a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission of unleashing the potential of the human spirit


Expedition Summary

In September, Erik Weihenmayer, best known as the only blind adventurer to climb Mt. Everest, will tackle another historic challenge, solo kayaking the Grand Canyon, 277 miles from Lee’s Ferry to Pierce Ferry. Joining him will be blinded Navy veteran and accomplished kayaker Lonnie Bedwell. Together, the two hope to make a powerful and authentic statement about living a No Barriers Life and the belief that this is possible for each of us. The expedition is hosted by No Barriers USA, a nonprofit organization that empowers people with the message, “what’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.”

Why the Grand Canyon?

With solid rock walls carved a mile deep by the mighty Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is one of the great natural wonders on Earth with a fearsome reputation as one of the most daunting whitewater venues in the world. Weihenmayer and Bedwell have spent the last several years training and developing innovative systems for kayaking rapids with the help of high-tech radios and verbal commands from experienced guides.

Erik Weihenmayer

  • Lost his sight at age 14 from a disease called Retinoschisis
  • Climbed Mt. Everest and the Seven Summits in a 7-year span
  • Completed Primal Quest, billed as one of the toughest adventure races in the world – 460 miles – 60,000 feet of elevation gain – no time outs.
  • Created the expedition to inspire others to live a No Barriers Life

Lonnie Bedwell

  • 13 years ago was injured in a hunting accident which took his sight instantly
  • Former Navy Petty Officer
  •  First visually impaired kayaker to complete the 225-mile stretch of the Grand Canyon, with a team of military veterans
  • Joined Erik’s expedition to make a statement to the world about the importance of supporting our veterans on their journey home

No Barriers USA

Weihenmayer is one of the early founders of No Barriers USA which helps people to tap into the human spirit, break through their own barriers and live a life of purpose. Through programming for youth, veterans, people with disabilities, and families, No Barriers provides tools and experiences which foster a community of curious, brave, and innovative explorers who want more out of life. Weihenmayer and Bedwell will use the platform of this adventure to reach an ambitious goal – to encourage one-million people to pledge to live a No Barriers Life by going to www.nobarrierspledge.org.