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BEAVERTON, Ore., Nov. 2 — Erik Weihenmayer, an accomplished mountain climber, sky diver and skier who lost his vision at age 13, was named the 2006 Casey Martin Award recipient today at Nike’s World Headquarters. The award ceremony included PGA Tour Member and Head Coach for the University of Oregon Men’s Golf Team, Casey Martin; Rachael Scdoris, the 2005 Casey Martin Award Recipient and first disabled athlete to participate in the 1,161-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (2005); Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, the television actor from the NBC series “Ed” who was paralyzed from the waist down by a 2001 motorcycle accident; Bob Wood, President of Nike Golf; and other special guests.
Nike created the Casey Martin Award in 2001 to recognize the efforts of an athlete who, like Martin, has overcome physical, mental, societal or cultural challenges to excel in their sport, or who advocates for other athletes who face similar challenges. The award includes a $25,000 Nike grant to a beneficiary designated by the award recipient’s choice. This year, the grant will go to the No Barriers Festival (www.nobarriersusa.org), an organization that works to improve quality of life for people with disabilities by increasing their active participation in the natural environment.
“The Casey Martin Award is a powerful symbol of the values closest to the heart of the Nike brand: excellence in sports and the fact that everyone should have a right to participate in the sport of their choice,” Bob Wood said. “We are proud to honor Erik with the Casey Martin Award for his courage and perseverance, and for the incredible inspiration he brings to athletes of all abilities around the world.”
A former middle-school teacher and wrestling coach, Weihenmayer is one of the most exciting and well-known athletes in the world. When he was 33 Weihenmayer, now 38, became one of the youngest people to climb all of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents: Mt. McKinley (1995); El Capitan (1996); Mt. Kilimanjaro (1997); Argentina’s Aconcagua (1999); Polar Circus (2000), a 3,000-foot ice waterfall in Alberta; and Mt. Everest (2004).
In addition to being a world-class athlete, Weihenmayer is also an author and filmmaker. In his autobiographical work, Touch the Top of the World, Weihenmayer recalls his struggle to push past the limits of vision loss. His extraordinary accomplishments have gained him abundant press coverage including repeated visits to NBC’s “Today Show” and segments on “World News Tonight,” “The Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” MSNBC and “Inside Edition.” He also received an ESPY Award and has been featured in Sports Illustrated and Men’s Journal.
Weihenmayer’s award-winning film, “Farther Than the Eye Can See,” was shot in HDTV format and offers an intimate look inside one of the most successful Mount Everest expeditions ever. Bringing home first prize at 17 film festivals and nominated for two Emmys, the film captures the emotion, humor and drama of Weihenmayer’s historic ascent as well as his team’s four other remarkable “firsts:” the first American father/son team to summit, the oldest man to summit, the first High Definition film footage shot on the summit of Everest and the most people from one team to reach the top of Everest in a single day. “Farther Than the Eye Can See” is being screened by film festivals, schools, colleges, corporations and special fundraising events for nonprofit organizations. To date, the film has raised approximately $600,000 for charitable organizations.
Weihenmayer’s other film accomplishment is “Mountains Without Barriers,” an inspiring look at No Barriers Festival 2005, held in the heart of the Italian Dolomites and directed by Michael Brown. This 24-minute film features the extraordinary people, revolutionary technologies, and a one-of-a-kind climbing adventure, which comprised the festival. Mountains without Barriers won “Most inspirational Film” at the Boulder Adventure Film Festival and is currently touring numerous other festivals, including Taos Mountain Film Festival, Banff Mountain Film Festival, and the prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival Traveling Show which tours hundreds of cities worldwide.
More information about Weihenmayer is available online at: www.touchthetop.com. Information about No Barriers is available online at www.nobarriers.org.
About the Casey Martin Award
Nike established the Casey Martin Award in 2001 to honor an individual who, like Martin, is changing the very face of the sport in which they participation. The Casey Martin Award is given annually by Nike to an individual with a current disability as defined by the Department of Justice, someone who has pursued their sport of choice to a level of success despite challenges, or someone who has taken a personal or public stand to support athletes with disabilities to participate in sports. In addition to individual recognition, the recipient is given a grant award of $25,000 to direct to a qualified nonprofit organization of his or her choice.
The award was named in honor of professional golfer Casey Martin, who has Klippel-Trenauny-Weber Syndrome, a rare, incurable, degenerative condition that causes chronic leg pain and makes it physically impossible for him to walk during tournaments. Martin sued the PGA Tour in 1998, claiming that the Tour’s denial of his request to ride a cart during PGA Tour events violated his civil liberties under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld Martin’s victory. The PGA Tour appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Martin in May of 2001.
The Casey Martin Award is an integral part of Nike’s overall commitment to ensure that there are employees of all abilities in its workplace, and athletes of all abilities on the playing field. Judges on the award committee, including representatives from Nike Golf, Global Community Affairs and the Nike Disabled Employees Network, selected Weihenmayer among numerous candidates. For information about the award, including past years’ recipients, go to www.nikebiz.com/caseymartinaward.
About Nike, Inc.
NIKE Inc., based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly owned Nike subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; NIKE Bauer Hockey Inc., a leading designer and distributor of hockey equipment; Cole Haan, a leading designer and marketer of luxury shoes, handbags, accessories and coats; Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories, and Exeter Brands Group LLC, which designs and markets athletic footwear and apparel for the value retail channel.