Tourism for All--Sharon Moore Myers
by Sharon Moore Myers
(Troutville, Va. USA)
Reaching the top of Machu Picchu on my 51st birthday!
My first trip to Peru was in 1973 when I competed in the Pan-American Wheelchair Games. I met so many wonderful people who gave their best to me. My husband and I, captains of the U. S. Team, met with the President and his wife at the Palace and talked with them about improving access for wheelchair users.
For twenty five years, I dreamed of returning and "giving back" to the people I met there. In 1998 that dream was realized when I met a Peruvian Tour Operator, Pepe Lopez owner of Apumayo Expediciones. He shared the same vision of making his country more disability friendly.
Our first trip was to Machu Picchu on my fifty-first birthday! In my five trips there, I've visited most parts of Peru including white water rafting down the Urubamba River, boating at Ballestas Island, being the first paralyzed person to visit the Posadas Amazonas Lodge from the Tambopata River.
People have asked me, "Why do you risk your life?" My answer can be found in the faces of the people I have met there who strive to live a better life.
Though I was invited by Prom Peru to make Peruvian destinations more disability friendly for some 800 million people worldwide who have disabilities, my hidden agenda was to make the environment more friendly for the people of Peru who have disabilities and strive to work, play, raise their families and enjoy life like their peers who I call "temporarily able bodied".
I try to leave the thought with everyone I've met in tourism to share the reality that sooner or later in life each one of us will have or our loved ones will have a disability.
My most rewarding experience was to be a part of the establishment of a sports group I named Cusco Courage or Cusco Coraje. In our first basketball clinic, there were five people. Within a year the "little team that could" grew to over a hundred members. Since then, I've collected and presented thirty sports chairs to their team.
And, I've written a book, Paco's Gift / El Regalo de Paco. It's based on an angelic encounter I had with a homeless shoeshine boy and how he changed the way I celebrate Christmas.
I received a letter from the Vatican in which Pope John Paul two days before his death in which he blessed the book and the project. With the proceeds, I hope one day to build "the house of Cusco Coraje". A facility where Peruvians can be educated,learn trades,work, compete in sport, have a warm bed and food, worship and live happily in an accessible environment.
Though I competed and volunteered on five continents, it is the country of Peru where I have left a piece of my heart. I will always be grateful for my friendships and opportunities given to me by the kind people of Peru.
I will be uploading more videos as they are completed on my website and on YouTube. I would like to use Peruvian music and need your help to find an artist who would allow me to use their music.
Thank you so much, Sharon
Visit Sharon website for more updates