It’s more than most will ever be able to say they accomplished: climb to an incredible 17,598 feet and set foot within Mt. Everest’s rocky, snow-glazed Base Camp.
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Eli Reimer, a teen from Bend, Ore. who also has Down syndrome, made history by hiking 70 miles with his father, Justin Riemer, and a team of seven other people to the famed Himalayan mountain’s lofty staging area, all to raise money and awareness for the disabled. Everest has two base camps — one in China (North Base Camp) at 16,900 feet and another in Nepal (South Base Camp) at just under 17,600 feet; Eli and his father climbed to the latter. Just getting to one of Everest’s Base Camps is a major challenge, and climbers then have to wait, usually for several days, to acclimatize to the high altitude before continuing up the mountain.
According to WBTV.com, when Eli and his father stepped off their return flight to L.A. International Airport on Friday, March 22 — shortly after World Down Syndrome Day on March 21 — they received a warm welcome from supporters.
“We’re able to celebrate that as we departed Katmandu with [Eli] just completing something that as far as we know, no other teen with Down Syndrome [in the U.S.] has done, so it’s monumental,” said Justin Riemer. In an email to TIME, Reimer noted that a 35-year-old man from the U.K. was the first “and only other person” with Down syndrome to climb to the Base Camp.
Eli and Justin’s trip reportedly raised $85,000 in donations for Justin and his wife Tamara’s organization The Elisha Foundation, which offers support to families “affected by any disability.”
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