Quadriplegic reaches geographic North Pole: A historic first

    TORONTO, April 13 /CNW/ - The North Pole has now been made wheelchair
accessible. On April 11, 2009 a disabled parking sign was raised at the North
Pole on the 100th Anniversary of the first successful polar expedition. David
Shannon became the first person in world history with quadriplegia and in a
wheelchair to reach the Pole. He along with expedition co-leader and fellow
Canadian, Chris Watkins, developed "Team Independence 09" to promote breaking
barriers to accessibility and greater community inclusion.
    David upon reaching the pole stated, "This sign represents all peoples
who have faced challenges or adversity in their lives and have dreamed of
overcoming them. If we as people, work together in our homes, our cities, our
countries and in our global village, there is no dream that cannot be
    Chris Watkins who himself was injured in 1988 stated, "David and our Team
represents the long-shot win of the underdog. But it shows that there is no
dream too big to dream and no challenge to big to overcome. What David has
left us with is a world of infinite horizons."
    Media is invited to go to www.teamindependence.ca for more information
and a media package on this historic first North Pole Expedition. A photo of
their arrival at the North Pole is attached.
    During the expedition the team struggled with adversity. In addition to
the cutting arctic winds, David's spinal cord injury compromised his ability
to maintain body heat. The week of the final polar push, this heat retention
problem was compounded by a significant infection, which caused increased
susceptibility to the life threatening cold temperatures. David and Chris have
returned exhausted and with some minor injuries. For example, Chris suffered
some frostbite to his fingers and a cut to his foot. They are recovering in
Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway with their Teammate Darren Lillington. This is
an island still within the Arctic Circle north of Lapland. They will return to
Canada in a few days.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: To arrange an interview please contact Darren
at dslillin@lakeheadu.ca

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