What’s your goal? What challenge are you trying to overcome?
These are the questions posed to a group of YPN members and partner businesses when Todd Huston, the indisputable “king of the mountain” shared his story during the second annual Epic Impact. “The story I’m going to share isn’t about me, it’s about you,” Huston shared with the audience. “It’s about opportunities created through challenges so you can go on to make an Epic Impact.”
At age 14, Huston was in a boating accident, and his right leg was severely injured. The doctor thought Huston wasn’t going to make it. He did, after all, die twice in the emergency room. After being in and out of hospitals for seven years, Huston was given the choice of risking his life to save his leg or amputating. He chose to amputate. “Sometimes in life we get two tough choices, and neither are ones we want to make. I have gone through a lot of challenges, but it was in me to determine to have peace, joy, happiness and know that there’s something in me that’s stronger than the world.”
Huston has had an incredible journey from a horrible experience with his first fake leg to an addiction to painkillers, and an unfortunate marriage. Huston told the group that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel; you have to choose to learn and grow from it. Cry for 60 seconds, then move on. It takes work, but it’s worth it.
When you decide you want to change something in your life, it only takes one moment to make it happen. There is no top; there is no limit to the impact you can make. Huston also encouraged attendees to have a mentor, no matter who it is. We can all learn and grow from the experiences of others.
Huston’s mountain climbing endeavor began when he was invited by an organization for disabled people to climb to the highest elevation in all 50 states. He started training only to find out that it was cancelled one month before the expedition was set to take place. Disappointed, but prepared for the challenge, he decided to listen to his voice of intuition telling him to do the climb on his own. He planned to raise the $50,000 needed by selling t-shirts. While selling one day outside, he was approached by a gentlemen who left him this number: 1-800-ABC-DEFG. The gentleman just happened to be the Hooked on Phonics CEO. The CEO wrote a check for the entire expedition cost and the Summit America Expedition was established. Only 32 people in the world had done what Huston was able to accomplish, but none of them had a disability, making Huston the first disabled person to achieve this enormous feat. The whole expedition took just 66 days to complete, beating the previous world-record by an incredible 55 days. Huston shared the experiences he encountered in each state with the Epic Impact attendees.
While in Montana, he started to think “what does anyone care that I’m doing this?” Huston shared that if you are ever in doubt and step off your path, remember the reason you originally started and step back on. After meeting just the right person on the trail who wanted to get a book published for him, he was back on track. From books to national then international TV appearances to a potential big screen movie about his life, Huston’s story was becoming mainstream. “You have to get out there. You never know what could happen.”
Those in attendance were given a message of encouragement throughout Huston’s presentation. “Create your opportunity, don’t wait for someone else and don’t become the biggest obstacles to your own success. Don’t let your ego get in the way of being your best and taking a chance. Think outside the box- we weren’t even created to be in the box, so get out!”
Huston also shared stories with the group about standing on the edge of the highest elevations in different states, and how there is no such thing as fear. “Fear is something you create between your ears. You will get better results if you recognize fear and then eliminate it. Look at your options and deal with it.” And that’s what he did day after day of climbing and pushing his body to the limit. “No matter how many times you fall down in life, the mark of a true winner is that you get back up, every single time.”
During the biggest climb of his life at Mt. McKinley, Huston had to breathe three times just to take one step. McKinley is a daunting task for experienced climbers, let alone those that only have one leg trekking up the highest elevation in North America. His heart was racing during that moment, but he told the audience that true strength is within us. “Be great! We have the choice and we can make it count every moment of the day. Challenges aren’t meant to make us weak. They are meant to make us stronger. All of that and more is already within you.”
“God bless. I’ll see you at the top.”