Episode 31: Finding Your Community: Experiences at the No Barriers Summit

about the episode

Today, we have a special episode for you. We are sharing some one-on-one interviews with No Barriers Summit participants from June 2019 in Lake Tahoe, CA. Our host, Jeff Evans, took a “man on the street” approach and got firsthand accounts from various folks to talk about their personal experiences. He spoke with veterans, teachers, coaches, parents, and many more individuals taking part in a variety of experiential activities to get their feedback and personal takeaways. The Summit is for people from all walks of life with all types of challenges—physical, mental, invisible. The Summit experience is as diverse as the people who attend. Our next No Barriers Summit takes place in San Francisco in September 2020 and we hope to see you there.

Join leaders, change-makers and aspiring visionaries from all walks of life and unite to discover how to bring the No Barriers Life to a world ready for greater possibilities.

Get updates on 2020 Summit ticket availability >>

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1: I think that even coming to these summits, what I really appreciate is, just all the people from different backgrounds. I drug myself out of bed. I went to the gym and there's people in there that are amputees, and they're in wheelchairs and they're all just... they got that self-love going on. They're like, "I'm worth it. I'm worth showing up. I'm worth work on this body," and I think it makes you grateful for what you do have even when your mental stuff is kind of all out of whack. You're like, "I can go and tackle a hill." And there's something about that, that kind of balances out all of the things when we think everything's happening to us, right? Instead of for us.

Erik W.: It's easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I've gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon, and I happen to be blind. It's been a struggle to live what I call a No Barriers life, to define it, to push the parameters of what it means. And part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. In that unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in and the summit, exists a map. That map, that way forward is what we call No Barriers.

Speaker 3: Today we have a special episode for you. We're sharing some one-on-one interviews with No Barriers Summit participants from this past June at Lake Tahoe. Our host, Jeff Evans, took a man-on-the-street approach and got firsthand accounts from many folks to talk about their personal experience. He spoke with veterans, teachers, coaches, parents, and many more people who are taking part in different activities to get their feedback and their personal takeaways. The No Barriers Summit is for people from all walks of life with all types of challenges, whether physical, mental, or invisible. The summit experience is as diverse as the people who attend, and we wanted to showcase these individual testimonies. Our next No Barrier Summit takes place in San Francisco, September 2020 and we hope to see you there. Check out nobarriersusa.org to sign up and for updates.

Jeff Evans: All right, so we're up on the pavilion right now in front of climbing walls, and stages, and theaters, and all kinds of stuff. Everybody's just kind of rolled in for a little bit of a lunch break in between activities. And I've got Lanelle here who just finished the Amazing Race and we're patiently and breathlessly waiting to see whether her team won. Am I right?

Lanelle: Yes.

Jeff Evans: All right. So, hi Lanelle. I'm Jeff.

Lanelle: Hi.

Jeff Evans: Good to meet you.

Lanelle: Nice to meet you.

Jeff Evans: So, this is your first time at the summit?

Lanelle: Yes, yes it is.

Jeff Evans: And then, tell me why you're here. What brought you here?

Lanelle: Just looking for a place to where I could be around other people like myself and just try to connect with people. I've kind of been, I guess, not wanting to be around people due to my disability or whatever. And this is just a place where I can be myself.

Jeff Evans: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Has there been a fair bit of time between your experience in the service and being able to find a community to be able to connect with again?

Lanelle: Yeah, about 20 years actually.

Jeff Evans: 20 years.

Lanelle: Yeah, yeah.

Jeff Evans: 20 years. So, what branch of the service were you in?

Lanelle: Army.

Jeff Evans: Army. So, in the army and for the past 20 years, your road has taken you many different directions, I'm sure. Give me a sense of how you ended up here at this point and how did you get connected to the Warriors Program?

Lanelle: How I ended up at this point was probably about three years ago. My grandfather became ill and I just kind of had that mental break and ended up in and out of the hospital on a ton of meds and things like that, and just couldn't connect with anybody anywhere. And then, a friend had told me about the Barriers program and I was like, "Okay, well, I'll try it. I don't know. We'll see. I don't know if I want to be around a whole bunch of people." But I got here yesterday and thus far it's been great. I've been able to be myself and I just, I want to do it again.

Jeff Evans: Is this your first No Barriers experience?

Lanelle: Yes. My very first one. Yeah.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. And then, what's in store for you in the future with the Warriors Programs? You're doing something, aren't you?

Lanelle: Yeah, hopefully I can do the educator's part of it. I am a special educator and I was looking at the different programs that Barriers has and I'm hoping to probably do that educator's aspect of it.

Jeff Evans: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lanelle: Yep.

Jeff Evans: And are you an outdoors person naturally? Does that come natural to you? Is that something you do on your own time or is this sort of an introduction into a new realm for you?

Lanelle: Oh, kind of a new realm. I do a lot of working out, and running, and things like that. But doing the hiking, and the water, and everything else. I mean, it's just something new to me, but I love it. I really love it.

Jeff Evans: All right, so this is only day one, really. I mean, there's a lot in front of you.

Lanelle: Yes.

Jeff Evans: So, based on what you know about the Amazing Race today, and then you've got some things this afternoon. And then tomorrow is the Via Ferrata, right?

Lanelle: Right.

Jeff Evans: So that's happening tomorrow. Do you even know what that is?

Lanelle: I have no earthly idea.

Jeff Evans: Do you want to know or?

Lanelle: Yes, I do.

Jeff Evans: You do? I'm not going to tell you, because I want it to be an absolute surprise for you.

Lanelle: All right.

Jeff Evans: Because, let's just say... How are you with exposure? You know, like looking down from up high, and looking down at your feet, and seeing a lot of space?

Lanelle: I'm all right with that, but if the ground is perfectly safe, why leave it?

Jeff Evans: Well, you're going to have to face that philosophical question tomorrow, Lanelle.

Lanelle: Right.

Jeff Evans: I'm excited to meet you and oh, we're about to get the ans... Let's walk over. Come on. Come on. Let's walk over. We're about to get the results of the Amazing Race. [crosstalk 00:06:06]

Speaker 6: Results [inaudible 00:06:12] upstairs. Of the amazing race.

Jeff Evans: All right, so I'm still on the pavilion here. Who won the Amazing Race? Do we know? Did we get a sense of it?

Dejean: Six?

Jeff Evans: Team six.

Dejean: Right? Six.

Jeff Evans: Is that a Warrior's team or no?

Dejean: No.

Blake V.: No, high schoolers. They [inaudible 00:06:30].

Jeff Evans: No, high schoolers?

Dejean: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: Blasphemy. I'm calling. I think the fix was in. So anyway, we're here and I've got three of the Warriors team here that just finished the amazing race. Although they were not victorious, they do look pretty satisfied with their efforts. So I'm going to get some names around the horn.

Dejean: I'm Dejean.

Jeff Evans: Dejean-

Dejean: Beryl.

Jeff Evans: Beryl?

Dejean: Yep. Jason Stewart: Jason Stewart.

Jeff Evans: Jason Stewart.

Blake V.: And I'm Blake Vanassik.

Jeff Evans: Blake Finnassi. Okay. Finnassi?

Blake V.: Vanassik.

Jeff Evans: Vanassik. Very good. All right, so you guys have been to a No Barriers event before? Have you been to a Warrior's event?

Dejean: Yes.

Jeff Evans: You have?

Dejean: Yes.

Jeff Evans: Which one did you do before?

Dejean: Basecamp in Red Feather Lake area, Colorado.

Jeff Evans: When was that? Last year?

Dejean: I did it three years ago.

Jeff Evans: Three years ago.

Dejean: July.

Jeff Evans: And so, what's been going on the past three years?

Dejean: Oh man. So, that was right after I left the military. I had just gotten out six months prior to that, and since then been a civilian, started my own business, and I also started a nonprofit helping veterans choose meditation over medication.

Jeff Evans: Has it all been going smoothly as possible? As you expected it?

Dejean: Yeah, there's challenges, you know? There's funding, and there's all of that. But the cool thing is there's a lot of people interested in holistic healing modalities. So, that always keeps the ball rolling forward.

Jeff Evans: All right. So why the three year gap? And then, why are you here now?

Dejean: It's lonely out there and I think that coming to events like this, it reminds you of why you're doing it. But it also helps you find your battle buddies, and we look out for each other, we keep each other going. And so it's just kind of good to come back together and re-engage, link arms, and go back out into the world.

Jeff Evans: Nice. And you did that today.

Dejean: Yes.

Jeff Evans: And you're going to do it again tomorrow, and then the next day, and then the next day, right?

Dejean: Exactly. Exactly.

Jeff Evans: Exciting. All right. Talk to me bro. Is this your first event?

Blake V.: This is not. This is my first Summit. My first expedition with No Barriers was last year in June. We did a five or six day back country to Ruby Jewel Lake in Colorado.

Jeff Evans: Awesome. All right.

Blake V.: So we did a summit of Clark's peak, and then there's some no-name ones there as well, which was great. We got... still keeping up with some of the members of that team to this day. Actually, I just got a message from one-

Jeff Evans: Nice.

Blake V.: And it kind of just got the ball rolling for me. At that time was really when I just started getting my feet under my body, and actually able to move them. I've had some injuries in the past where I wasn't sure I was ever going to be able to hike again. And then, plus the Marines throw 70 pounds on our back and-

Jeff Evans: Suck it up.

Blake V.: Force march you. And you just... If you talk to a lot of Marines, they're not into hiking. That's not our thing so much. And you guys definitely changed that and put me on Summits and I've been chasing them ever since.

Jeff Evans: You've told me offline that you're going to go do Baker in September. All three of you are. We're going to meet our third teammate here in a minute. And then you may even stick around a little bit, because turns out you like to go suffer on hills. Right?

Blake V.: Let's do it.

Jeff Evans: So you're thinking about Rainier as well?

Blake V.: Yes, yes. Yes I am. We got a friend of mine, Aaron, and then Katie. She's going to be flying out behind us and staying with my grandfather. We got some places and we're going to try to tackle Rainier.

Jeff Evans: So clearly you're a little bit not right.

Blake V.: No.

Jeff Evans: No. [crosstalk 00:09:26] Welcome to the not right club, right? Yeah, I like it. Yeah. You like to knuckle down and take it on the chin. I mean, that's mountaineering, right?

Blake V.: Right, yeah.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. All right. Who else do we have? Jason Stewart: Jason Stewart.

Jeff Evans: All right. So Jason, you've been around for a little while, right? In the program. You've done another program before. What's the history here? Jason Stewart: I did the basecamp last year in Colorado. Squali.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. What was that like for you? Was that a good event? Was it hard? Was it easy? Jason Stewart: I think for me it was hard mentally. I was just coming off of a hospital stay and stuff. My medications and everything were kind of out of whack. So it was difficult for me in that way, just because I had a hard time opening up and expressing myself.

Jeff Evans: What's the journey been like for you in the past year leading up to today? Jason Stewart: It's been a bit of a struggle. I got my medications right and they've helped me out at the VA and everything. And I'm just trying to get back on track.

Jeff Evans: But do you feel like being at this Summit right now is probably a part of this process of you recalibrating and getting things back to where they should be? Jason Stewart: Yeah, I think so. It's helping me define what direction to go, and with my pledge and everything.

Jeff Evans: You told me offline that you're kind of redoing your pledge. Right? And I know that that probably is an indicator of a lot of things that are going on. Because in a way, the way we designed the pledge back in the day was to say, "Listen, this is something that you... This is your intention." And as we evolve, our intentions change. And it sounds like your original intention, just as you have evolved in the past year, is that accurate? And are you ruminating on that? Are you thinking about that kind of stuff these days? Jason Stewart: Yeah, I mean, a lot of it, I spent 12 years in the military. I kind of did it backwards. I served six years in the reserves and then I served six active. So I think a lot of it for me with No Barriers Warriors, is it brings me into a group of people that can help support and understand what I'm going through, and what I'm facing. You know? I think for me that's probably going to help out in redefining my pledge.

Jeff Evans: Good. Yeah. Jason Stewart: I'm stepping into the future and...

Jeff Evans: Proud of you, man. I'm proud of you. You guys, obviously... I mean I kind of alluded to it with you. But you enjoy being outside, and you enjoy knuckling down and having hard days?

Dejean: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: Hard days are what make life easier. That's the way I always kind of see it, right? Hard days make it easy.

Blake V.: Face some type of adversity, and some type of conflict, and it really kind of helps with me. If I don't have that conflict with myself through physical stimulus or mental stimulus, my mind finds conflict with myself. And I've also get external motivators from people that see me doing this stuff and say, "Hey, that motivates me."

Jeff Evans: Nice.

Blake V.: "Keep putting it out there. Keep putting pictures, keep telling me what you're doing." And that keeps me motivated and doing it for those people who cannot. And it just keeps me stepping, man.

Jeff Evans: Yeah, because people are counting on you for inspiration now.

Blake V.: Absolutely, yeah.

Jeff Evans: That's a good place to be. Yeah.

Dejean: I'm the same. I think that even coming to these summits, what I really appreciate is, not only do we get to meet other warriors, but just all the people from different backgrounds. I drug myself out of bed. I went to the gym and there's people in there that are amputees, and they're in wheelchairs and they're all just... they got that self-love going on. They're like, "I'm worth it. I'm worth showing up. I'm worth work on this body," and I think it makes you grateful for what you do have even when your mental stuff is kind of all out of whack. You're like, "I can go and tackle a hill." And there's something about that, that kind of balances out all of the things when we think everything's happening to us, right? Instead of for us.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. Amazing. I'm glad I ran into you guys. All of you.

Blake V.: Pleasure.

Jeff Evans: All three of you. Grateful for you.

Blake V.: Thank you for putting us together.

Jeff Evans: Yeah.

Dejean: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: Well, my pleasure. It's a group effort, but I'm grateful to all of you.

Dejean: Thank you.

Jeff Evans: And everything that you've done, and everything you're going to do. So, cheers.

Jeff Evans: All right. So, we just wrapped up the improv. Is that what we're calling? We call it improvs? Improv exercise. And I'm with-

Dwayne Crowder: Dwayne Crowder.

Jeff Evans: And Dwayne's from Georgia. And Dwayne and I were just with a group of, I'd say probably 12 people. And I don't know about you, but I mean, I didn't know what I was getting into. I think just the word improv just maybe gives you a brief explanation that we're going to be doing some sort of acting thing. But what was your take on it before you even rolled in here?

Dwayne Crowder: Well, before I walked in, like you said, I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know who was going to be in the room. I didn't know what situation. You only get thrown a verse and I just didn't really know how I was going to react to it.

Jeff Evans: But then, I mean, as... And I feel like the facilitators kind of cued us all up and made us start at the bottom, right? And then each exercise is building on the last one.

Dwayne Crowder: Yeah. That helped. With me being a coach, that's kind of how I do with my players. We start from the bottom and we build up. So, the facilitators here made us feel comfortable by starting us off simple, kind of breaking the ice and then made us comfortable. We really wasn't looking at the people in the room. Just like, we're in here to have a good time now.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. And I don't know about you, but it required us to just be open, and receptive, and fluid. Like the whole thing was just this... You had to adapt to what the other person was saying, which is a skill, right? It's a life skill and as a coach, right? So what do you coach?

Dwayne Crowder: I coach football and baseball.

Jeff Evans: Football and baseball.

Dwayne Crowder: Absolutely.

Jeff Evans: So you're talking about building young men and turning them in to citizens, right?

Dwayne Crowder: Right.

Jeff Evans: And so you're building on each thing, right?

Dwayne Crowder: Right, right. And you're put in different situations. You come into a game, you got your game plan. "Okay, I'm going to play this person, we're going to do this." And then the lights go out. Now what do you do? You know? Or this kid gets hurt, or the national anthem doesn't work, or the umpires are not there.

Jeff Evans: Yeah.

Dwayne Crowder: That's kind of a way of improving because now you got to say, "Okay, what do we do now?"

Jeff Evans: Right.

Dwayne Crowder: "This kid's hurting and I got to play this kid. But I wouldn't plan to play this kid because he's not any good. But now-"

Jeff Evans: But you're forced to.

Dwayne Crowder: Yeah. Now I'm forced to. Now that puts it back on me. Have I coached him up well enough?

Jeff Evans: Wow. So there's vestiges of this as you're going to... At least it'll be sitting back there in the back of your mind, ways you can bring it to your boys, right?

Dwayne Crowder: Right.

Jeff Evans: Yep. Awesome. Thank you, Dwayne.

Dwayne Crowder: Appreciate it.

Jeff Evans: That's awesome man.

Dwayne Crowder: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Jeff Evans: All right. So we just wrapped up Mandy Harvey's workshop, which was utterly amazing on so many levels. Physical level, auditory level, visual level, so much of it. And Andrew's here with me. Andrew... What's your last name, Andrew?

Andrew H.: Heinerfeil.

Jeff Evans: And you live in Fort Collins, right?

Andrew H.: I do.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. So what was your experience like? It can take me an hour to try and put this into words, but give me your synopsis of this.

Andrew H.: I think it's another opportunity here at the Summit to experience something in a new way, a new and profound way, and definitely widen my ability to empathize and just expand my personal horizons and perspectives of different ways that people perceive their world. That enables me to also expand my own unique way of perceiving a situation. And I love music. And so now I have a whole nother way to focus on something that I love.

Jeff Evans: Give me a quick synopsis on... What were the tools that Mandy used here, and what did you take away from listening to her and how interprets music?

Andrew H.: I guess it's learning to take in music more tactfully, and also to be sensitive to vibrations of music in a new way. And for me, it actually made me think about meditation, which is something that I do. But another great benefit about meditation, because it enables us to be more grounded within ourselves. And so with something like music and how she perceives the music, if you can remove a lot of other distractions, but then be able to feel the subtle vibrations of music, it's like, wow. It's like all of a sudden you have another whole conduit to take in something that you already love.

Jeff Evans: True story. That's another layer of meditation, right?

Andrew H.: It is.

Jeff Evans: Because you're trying to block out the external and allow yourself to be centered on this moment, this thing that's happening, that's passing through you. Right?

Andrew H.: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: So I heard you say you work with autistic kids, right?

Andrew H.: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: So you mentioned it right on the outset. This is going to give you another tool, or an ability to be able to change your methodology, maybe? And how you reach them. Give me a sense of what that means.

Andrew H.: Well, I already... One thing I love to do with my students is we do a weekly drum circle with them. And so, one thing that I already have them do is often close their eyes when we're playing drums. And so they can heighten their sense of hearing. But I... Already made me think what can I set up in my room to enhance the tactile vibrational aspects of it? And then I really want to find out more about that cool app she was talking about with the vest, or that to where the kids could potentially feel those vibrations a lot more profoundly when they're listening to music.

Jeff Evans: So one of my very best friends is an ASL interpreter, and she does it for music on stage. And one of the things she talks about is that vest and that whole program. But she said the poor man's version of that is a big balloon.

Andrew H.: Oh?

Jeff Evans: A big balloon. And holding that balloon on your chest with your arms.

Andrew H.: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: Getting some big ones, you know?

Andrew H.: Sure.

Jeff Evans: And holding it up, and then just getting close to the speaker, and allowing it to feel. And just hopefully, the kids won't pop the balloons.

Andrew H.: Yeah. Or I was even thinking I want to try it because we have several of those yoga balls already in our school.

Jeff Evans: That would work.

Andrew H.: So to just experiment having them sit on that while we're playing music together and so, for them to see that. But again, and I was thinking, it's just as important for educators, for us to heighten our sensitivity of other people's needs and how other people perceive things differently. That in order to be a good educator, you have to really remove your own biases and your own ways of interpreting things to better understand how somebody else is interpreting.

Jeff Evans: Thanks Andrew.

Jeff Evans: Let's get going here. So, I am here with Megan. And Megan, would you care to tell me what your last name is?

Megan Kalaulau: Kalaulau.

Jeff Evans: Okay. I'm not even going to try to say that because it's beautiful, but it's really complicated. So Megan and I were part of the Mandy Harvey workshop this morning. And how would you describe that workshop, Megan? Tell me how you would describe what we did in that workshop.

Megan Kalaulau: Amazing.

Jeff Evans: Yeah? What did we do? Like, what kind of things did we do while we were in there?

Megan Kalaulau: She taught us how to feel the music.

Jeff Evans: Yeah, feel it. Feel the music, right? Not listen, but feel it. Had you ever done that before?

Megan Kalaulau: No.

Jeff Evans: And were you feeling it throughout your whole body? Was it going into your chest, into your face, and your skin? Where was it? Was it everywhere? Like, where was it hitting you?

Megan Kalaulau: I was feeling it in my hands a little.

Jeff Evans: Your hands. All right. So, okay. So let's just back up a little bit. So you are a REACH scholarship recipient, is that right?

Megan Kalaulau: Yes.

Jeff Evans: When did you find out that you got that award? And tell me what that award did. What did it do for you?

Megan Kalaulau: It helped me to realize that there's no barrier that I can't complete.

Jeff Evans: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. And something that happened that was really special is after Mandy's workshop. How did it happen? Did you go up to Mandy and say, "I'd like to sing a song with you?"

Megan Kalaulau: No. Actually, it happened because Daniel asked her.

Jeff Evans: What did Daniel ask her?

Megan Kalaulau: Daniel asked her if I could-

Jeff Evans: Sing a song?

Megan Kalaulau: Sing a song with her.

Jeff Evans: Did you have a song picked out that you wanted to do?

Megan Kalaulau: No.

Jeff Evans: No? Well then, what was the song you sang?

Megan Kalaulau: Open the Eyes Of My Heart.

Jeff Evans: Open the Eyes Of My Heart. So you knew that song. She knew that song, and you said, "Let's just do it together?"

Megan Kalaulau: Yes.

Jeff Evans: Fantastic. I tell you what, Megan. You made me cry.

Megan Kalaulau: I did?

Jeff Evans: Yes. You did. I was trying not to.

Megan Kalaulau: Oops.

Jeff Evans: Yes, you made me cry because it was so beautiful. What you were doing was so beautiful. Between you and Mandy, and the conversation that you had musically was really, really special. And you looked like... You just had this look on your face that you were so in tune with what you were feeling, and what you were singing, and how you were communicating with Mandy. Does that sound about right?

Megan Kalaulau: Yes.

Jeff Evans: Yeah, it was very, very special. Well, Hey. Are you having fun? Are you having a good time here?

Megan Kalaulau: Yes.

Jeff Evans: Yes?

Megan Kalaulau: I don't want the Summit to end.

Jeff Evans: You don't want it to end. All right, well I don't blame you. I mean, a really amazing, amazing time. And Megan, I hope you're having fun here at the Summit, and congratulations on the award. You've got a beautiful voice and I hope you keep singing.

Megan Kalaulau: Thank you.

Jeff Evans: So, I'm with another reach scholarship recipient, Melissa Simpson, who is an extraordinary young woman I got to meet here at the Summit a couple of days ago, maybe. And we shared an experience today where we went to Mandy Harvey's workshop. You know, I've already commented on the workshop on a previous post, and it was one of the most powerful, impactful experiences that I've had here at the Summit. But I really want to get your impression on what you experienced while you were there, and how Mandy touched you in a way that maybe you hadn't been before.

Melissa Simpson: They played on her phone, they played songs that meant a lot to me and they played one that really stood out to me. It's called-

Jeff Evans: Is it one of her songs, or was it one of the other ones? Because she played a Journey song.

Melissa Simpson: The first one.

Jeff Evans: More Than A Feeling. There was-

Melissa Simpson: Journey.

Jeff Evans: The Journey song.

Melissa Simpson: Song. Yeah.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. What was that? (singing) It was a good Journey song, but it was rock. So you know that song.

Melissa Simpson: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: And how old are you?

Melissa Simpson: Don't-

Jeff Evans: Don't Stop Believing.

Melissa Simpson: Don't Stop Believing.

Jeff Evans: Don't Stop Believing! That's it. But how old are you?

Melissa Simpson: 37.

Jeff Evans: That song was written before you were born. How do you know that song?

Melissa Simpson: My mom's music.

Jeff Evans: Yeah, Mom's a Journey fan. But that's a great song, right?

Melissa Simpson: Yes.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. And so she played that song, and had us all feel the music as opposed to just hear it. Right? So how were you feeling the music?

Melissa Simpson: I was feeling the music through my chair and the vibration on the floor. I would slide forward and I would put my bare feet on the floor.

Jeff Evans: You had your feet on the floor. I saw that. What about, was there a drum beside you?

Melissa Simpson: Yes. Yes. There was a drum, and I closed my eyes and I felt the vibration through that.

Jeff Evans: Yes. So it was almost like a percussion drum. Not like a drum kit. But it was like a conga drum. It was up off the floor. So the vibration of the music went from the speaker up through the drum, and you could feel it over on the canvas of the drum, and your feet on the floor. You're just feeling the whole thing. Right? Okay. Well, that was amazing. Everybody starts to walk out and everything. Really cool. Really fun. And then, I saw you. And I connected with you. And you were clearly feeling that whole experience. And then, talk me through the rest of it.

Melissa Simpson: I have a passion for music, and Mandy brought it out in a different way that I never thought was possible. Mandy is deaf. She has inspired me, that my senses are perfect. But she's also inspired me in a way that tells me that I don't need my ears, that I can do stuff without my senses. Like one sense, and use sign language or use stuff to communicate. And I love music, and that's one way that she taught me to do.

Jeff Evans: Yes.

Melissa Simpson: She taught me the vibration.

Jeff Evans: There's no restrictions. Right? Because music can flow through you in so many different ways. Right? Okay. So when you came over though, I just want listeners to feel what I felt when I watched this happen with you. You went through this moment where you allowed your emotions to hit you in a way, and express them into Mandy. And it broke you down, it looked like, in a powerful way. Right? And I watched you just cry and release yourself onto Mandy. She hugged you so, so deeply.

Melissa Simpson: Yes.

Jeff Evans: One of the most precious parts of the whole thing is when you realized that this was an intense moment. You said, "I'm sorry, Mandy. I'm sorry that I'm doing this." And Mandy, what she did she say to you?

Melissa Simpson: "It's okay. We all cry. We all have emotion."

Jeff Evans: And don't apologize for it.

Melissa Simpson: "And don't apologize for it."

Jeff Evans: Yeah. Don't apologize for loving, because that's what you were doing.

Melissa Simpson: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: You were feeling love and you were letting it go, right?

Melissa Simpson: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: Yeah. You are a beautiful human being, Melissa.

Melissa Simpson: Thank you.

Jeff Evans: And I'm privileged to have met you, and witnessed that with you, and shared that experience with you today.

Melissa Simpson: Thank you.

Jeff Evans: And I feel like you provided me a gift today, so thank you.

Melissa Simpson: We each did a Summit together.

Jeff Evans: Yes, yes let's [Inaudible 00:29:31] We're going to have a good time tonight, right?

Melissa Simpson: Yeah.

Jeff Evans: Okay.

Speaker 3: Thanks to all of you for listening to our podcast. We know that you have a lot of choices about how you can spend your time, and so we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com. Special thanks to The Dan Ryan band for our intro song, which is called Guidance. The production team behind this podcast includes; producers Dietrich Shonk and Pauline Schaffer, sound design, editing, and mixing by Tyler Cottman, graphics by Sam Davis and marketing support by Laura Baldwin and Jamie Donnelly. Thanks to all you amazing people for the great work you do.

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Program Manager


Moriah (Mo) Leuthauser grew up in a small town in Western Colorado. There she spent time outside with her family- skiing, backpacking, climbing and camping. She was introduced to adaptive recreation through an internship with a nonprofit organization that offered recumbent cycling tours from Telluride to Moab for disabled veterans. She was inspired to get involved with adaptive recreation after seeing the joy and healing that she had witnessed it bringing.  She attended Grand Canyon University, where she worked as a guide in the outdoor recreation program and received her Wilderness First Responder certification. Then, she worked at the National Ability Center as an adaptive ski instructor and as an adaptive raft guide for multi day rafting trips. During this time, she earned her PSIA Adaptive Level 1 cert and her Swift Water Rescue Level 4 cert. She now works for No Barriers as the Warriors Program Coordinator, but most enjoys opportunities to be in the field. In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, board games and gardening. She hopes for a future where outdoor recreation is more accessible for all people and she plans to devote her career to this cause.