Steelers’ and UPMC neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon isn’t afraid of a challenge, and he proved it when he climbed Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro this week.
Maroon, who recently completed his eighth Ironman Triathlon, climbed 3.6 miles straight up the mountain along with 10 people with disabilities, serving as the medical director for the group.
Immediately after making the remarkable climb Maroon called KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh from a satellite phone to share his experience.
“This is a very, very difficult mountain to climb, actually. I was with three individuals with no legs, one individual with both legs amputated and an arm, and another with no arms – a 19-year-old young man who was born with no arms,” said Maroon. “To see these individuals climb over steep rocks and terribly difficult trails, to reach this summit – the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas and the tallest (free-standing) mountain in Africa, was one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen.
“The motto of it was Paths to Glory, and the altitude (an individual attains) is determined by one’s attitude. I’ve never in my life seen such attitude like these fellows. They’re all superbly trained athletes who were injured. A couple of them in a car accident; had their leg amputated. And now are training for the Paralympics in Brazil in 2016. It’s one of the greatest experiences of my life.”