A WITNESS TO HISTORY

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Gary Christenson is a witness to history. He became so when he joined Trek for T.E.F. an expedition to the Mt. Everest Base Camp.

The trip was put together to raise money for The Elisha Foundation, and included one incredible member, Elisha Reimer. During the Trek Elisha became the first person with Down Syndrome to ever summit the Mt. Everest Base Camp.

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What do you think will be your go to anecdotal story from the trip? You know, the one you’ll still be telling over beers 20 years from now.

I’ll talk the most about Eli. What an amazing young man he is. He is an inspiration not only to me, but to people all around the world! Eli made history when he successfully climbed to Everest Base Camp. The point in all of this was to spread a message of hope and love. To be able to talk about disability in a different light, and maybe help the world understand that it’s nothing to hide or run away from. We wanted to show and talk about how each of us is created uniquely and for a purpose. How each of us has value. How, most of all, we have hope in something greater.

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Tell us more about Eli. He sounds like an incredible and inspiring young man. What was it like to share in his adventure?

Eli is a champion. Each day I was impressed with his physical stamina. He honestly outdid most of us on this whole journey. While the rest of the team was getting sick, losing our appetite and losing sleep each night due to the high altitude, Eli charged on, ate enough food for two people at every meal and slept like a rock every single night – he was made for this sort of adventure.

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Eli is a fit and strong young man, but none-the-less we were concerned about some of the physical challenges that can come with Down Syndrome – low muscle tone, heart issues, etc. Due to the unknowns of Eli’s unique physiology we didn’t know how his body would respond to the rigors of the trail and effects of high altitude (even though his doctors all approved and released him to go on this trip). Because of this uncertainty, our Team knew that every overnight stop in the villages along the way was a “summit” for Eli. We knew that each and every step was a massive accomplishment.

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We ask everyone, "What does mobile photography mean to you?" You instagrammed while trekking to the Mount Everest Base Camp! As someone who has taken iPhonegraphy to an entirely different level, we need to hear your thoughts on it.

iPhoneography is great. We love our Instagram and online communities – they helped us raise over $11,000 for The Elisha Foundation during our fundraiser before we left for Nepal! We wanted to keep them updated while I was on the trail. So, at random villages uploaded a bunch of images (via some iffy wifi) of the things our team was experiencing and seeing. This meant the world to my little family back home, and it encouraged our team so much to receive the love and support of those back home while we journeying on this long and hard trail.

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A second question we ask everyone is, "What is your favorite feature/filter/thing about PicTapGo?" We set you up with the beta version before your trip. Did it come in handy?

I love most everything about the PTG app and was excited to work with the beta version while in the Himalayas. Once I returned home and the crop tool got added to the app, it changed everything. I no longer have to use several apps to process my images on the go. I only use PicTapGo.

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Trek for T.E.F. is truly inspiring and gathered massive amounts of media attention once the team returned to the states. If you’re interested in learning more about Trek for T.E.F. be sure to visit both the site for the expedition and the Elisha Foundation. If you’d like a detailed account of the adventure visit Gary’s blog where has an amazing post detailing the experience.

Cory Ann Ellis