Each year, hundreds of people come together to participate in the ‘No Barrier Summit.’ The 3-day trip gets both men and women facing personal barriers to push each other past their limits and break down the walls that have been holding them back. Joe Akmakjian was one of the participants at this year’s summit. Joe has muscular atrophy, but says he’s not letting his condition become a barrier that gets in the way of his success.
Each participant at the Summit chooses an activity of their choice, even if it seems impossible. Akmakjian chose skiing. Despite spending a majority of his day in a wheelchair, ‘No Barrier’ provided him with retrofitted skis for someone with muscular atrophy.
Akmakjian says it’s important for people of all abilities at the Summit to push themselves and to do it together. “There’s just a whole community making sure that people of all abilities can live beyond limits and live a no barriers life and I think my eyes have just been open to that wider community.”
Living a ‘No Barrier’ life might seem inconceivable for some, but Akmakjian says it’s the only way to live. Trusting others to help you in situations that are scary is key to success, says Akmakjian. “There’s a lot of trust but you don’t know what the events are going to turn out to be. Sure, they could be intense or crazy and you might get hurt or something.”
Akmakjian says, life is all about tapping into that inner dare devil. “I don’t want to miss out on stuff either so if I end up with a twisted arm or a broken foot or something but I got to experience something really cool then I can live with that and I’m okay with it because I think that experience is a lot more important.”
Despite an overload of adrenaline all weekend, at the end of the trip, Akmakjian decided to sign up for next years ‘No Barrier Summit.’