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April 2003:

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Apr. 6

Matt arrives into base camp    Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning NewsTrekkers Shatter All Doubts, Reach Mt. Everest Base Camp!
They have achieved a goal many considered unthinkable. While many slept soundly in their beds late Saturday night, a determined group of people with disabilities on the other side of the world made the final steps of an often grueling 16-day journey, reaching Mt. Everest Base Camp at 17,500 ft.

Said Team Leader Gary Guller, “I've never seen such a determined team, fully focused on achieving this goal and understanding the historic event that has taken place. We are feeling the effects of altitude and the time we have been on the trail, but we are thrilled to be here. Most folks are not aware that only 1 in 10 people ever reach the base camp of Mount Everest.”

Team Everest ’03, a benefit for the non-profit Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), began in Austin, Texas in January 2002 and included a host of public awareness events and intense preparation for all members.

News of the successful trek reached Austin where Texas Governor Rick Perry said, “I applaud the members of Team Everest for this incredible accomplishment. They stand as a reminder to us all that each day represents a new opportunity to achieve new goals. And limits should never be placed on the ability of the human mind or the potential of the human spirit.”

Glacier travel    Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning NewsCongratulations to the members of historic TE ’03 at Base Camp:

Sandra Murgia, 43, retired military, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, arthritis and leg paralysis, Austin, TX
Barry Muth, 44, Community Integration Specialist with quadriplegia, San Antonio, TX
Dinesh Ranasinghe, 25, Web Developer with a leg amputation, San Antonio, TX
Christine White, 50, Human Resources Manager with severe childhood hearing loss, Austin, TX
Mark Ezzell, 39, grants manager with spina bifida, Raleigh, NC
Matt Standridge, 24, Retail Assoc. with paraplegia, San Marcos, TX
Riley Woods, 28, Student with paraplegia, Waco, TX
Christine Kane, 29, Speech Pathologist & Teacher, San Marcos, TX
Dana Roach, 37, Emergency Medical Technician, Bloomfield, IN
Ted Holmes, 61, Ski Instructor & Clinician, Morrison, CO
Dinesh, Dick & Matt arrive into BC   Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning News Jose Reyes, 48, Oxygen Technician, Silver City, NM
Richard Muldowney, 62, Substance Abuse Counselor, Hinsdale, MA
Andy Cockrum, 41, Videographer, Austin, TX
Reid Nixon, 34, Asst. Videographer, Austin, TX
Janis Tupesis, 28, Expedition Physician, Chicago, IL
Nikki Tupesis, 28, Chicago, IL
Lee Hancock, 44, Journalist, The Dallas Morning News, Tyler, TX
Erich Schlegel, 40, Photographer, he Dallas Morning News, Austin, TX
Vince Bousselaire, 49, Associate Pastor, Golden, CO
Gary Scott, 44, Expedition Co-leader, Colorado Springs, CO
Gary Guller, 36, Expedition Leader with an arm amputation, Austin, TX

Team members Gene Rodgers, 47, a writer with quadriplegia from Austin, TX, and Rob Rodgers, 40, a salesman with clinical depression and an anxiety disorder from Parma Heights, Ohio, trekked to within three hours of Base Camp before a sudden medical condition unrelated to altitude struck Gene, forcing the brothers to head back down to Kathmandu. Gene has been released from the hospital and he and brother Robert are now in their hotel. Both are well and sound great!

Tenzing Sherpa, 40, with a leg amputation and Lakpa Dorchi Sherpa, 70, with an arm amputation, Kim Smith, 38, Advocacy Coordinator with hip dysplagia, fibromyalgia and bipolar condition of Howe, TX and Steve Bernstein, 59, Senior VP, Morrison, CO descended because of altitude sickness. They will wait at Pheriche, where the team will fly by helicopter to Kathmandu in about a week.

Chris Watkins had to turn back from Gorak Shep for medical reasons. He is receiving medical care in Kathmandu, recovering quickly and plans to head back to the hills and rejoin the climbing team in a week or so. He congratulates the entire team at Base Camp and says how inspiring they have been to him.

Email messages to the team

This portion of the journey a success, Guller and a high altitude team will attempt the summit, weather and conditions permitting. Guller hopes to stand atop the mountain in late May and become the first person with one arm to climb to the 29,035-foot peak. Team Itinerary

Gary & Sherpa welcome team  Photo by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning NewsTeam Everest '03 still needs to raise funds to cover expedition expenses. Plans are in the works for an April 17 fundraiser, 6-10 pm at Mother Egan's in Austin. The event will welcome team members home and top local musicians will play. A panel discussion with the trek team members will be held at 10:00 am, also on April 17, at the CTD offices. Call 512/478-3366 or Email for details.

Contact Dennis Borel at 512/478-3366 M-F (other times at 512/431-1656 or 512/443-6038) or for a media kit, sponsorship opportunities and to learn more about TE '03 and the advocacy work of CTD.

Slide show by Erich Schlegel / The Dallas Morning News

The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities is dedicated to ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy equal opportunities to live, work, play, and participate fully in the community of their choice. CTD has consistently delivered important results for persons with disabilities for the past 24 years, and needs your support to fight the discrimination that faces individuals with disabilities in almost every aspect of their lives.



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