A- A+

Why You Should Hear Blind Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer Speak at The Partnership’s 2023 Annual Dinner

Weihenmayer Annual Dinner

January 19, 2023

There were two students who happened to be blind attending Boston College (BC) in the late 1980s. One was my housemate, Tom Wlodkowski. The other was Erik Weihenmayer, a classmate of my soon-to-be wife, Christine. We marveled at the way each of them navigated campus and the greater city of Boston, with Erik using a guide dog while Tom preferred a foldable cane.  

About Erik Weihenmayer 

While I only met Erik in passing, usually stopping to pet his dog as many students did, Tom knew him fairly well. Both, of course, were sight-impaired. Both were from Connecticut and both majored in Communications. And while both were impressive in how they progressed through college despite their disability, we had no idea that Erik would become internationally famous. 

Erik had been to Iowa before coming to BC. He took up wrestling in the early ‘80s and was so good that he represented Connecticut in the National Junior Freestyle Wrestling Championship, an event held here in Iowa. Later, when he was a teacher, he coached wrestling. He double-majored in English and Communications and graduated in 1990. 

Although his adulthood started off fairly benign as a teacher, his adventurous streak took hold and in 1995 he climbed his first major mountain, Denali. In 2001, he became the first blind person to summit Mount Everest. Erik is probably most well-known for climbing all the Seven Summits, a feat that took him just seven years! But he was not finished yet. In 2014, he kayaked the entire 277 miles of the Grand Canyon, one of the more dangerous whitewater venues in the world.  

Erik is an accomplished author, having written three books, two of them memoirs. He has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine and made numerous appearances on news and talk shows. A documentary has been made about his climbing feats and he has even been named one of “The 25 Most Adventurous Men of the past 25 Years” by Men’s Journal.  

You may never have heard of Erik. Or perhaps you read about him in Time or saw his appearance on Oprah. Whatever you know about him, you don’t know his full life story, a story both inspiring and compelling. All of us who went to BC with him are proud of his achievements, and Christine and I are delighted he is coming to Des Moines.  As a wise showman once proclaimed, “Step right up! Don’t be shy. Because you will not believe your eyes. You’ll get every penny’s worth, but it will cost you $200 first!”   

See you at the Greater Des Moines Partnership Annual Dinner on Thursday, January 26! Register for the event to hear from Erik during the Annual Dinner from 5 – 9 p.m. at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. 

The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM

Brendan Comito

Brendan Comito is COO at Capital City Fruit in Norwalk, Iowa.