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I’ll Push You: The Adventure Begins

camino-de-santiago-by-wheelchair-caminowaysBest friends Justin and Patrick are embarking on a very special and inspirational Camino de Santiago adventure this week. Justin, The Disabled Traveler, dedicates his life to inspire people with disabilities to overcome challenges, enjoy life and explore the world. His childhood friend Patrick will be pushing Justin 800km along the Camino Francés, all the way from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. Patrick and Justin will be sharing their experience on the CaminoWays.com blog every week. Let’s follow their amazing Camino journey with them…Buen Camino!

By: Justin Skeesuck

Let me be completely honest with you… I am really nervous!

This has been almost 2 years in the making and I can’t believe we are finally about to start on this insane adventure! And, to be doing this with my best friend is somewhat unimaginable and a little mind blowing.

But, before we move on, let me give you some quick back story on how this all came about. And what I mean by “this” you will understand in just a moment.

My name is Justin Skeesuck and I’m lucky to have Patrick Gray as my best friend.

You see, we are not only just best friends, but we have also known each other literally our ENTIRE lives. This is because we were born just over 24 hours apart… and as I like to say, I’m the “older and wiser” one!

We have grown up together, traveled together, were best men in each other’s weddings, raised our families together and live life together. I know him inside and out, just like he knows everything about me.

Life was great until the age of 16 when I was in a horrible car accident which, unbeknownst to me at the time, triggered a dormant progressive autoimmune disease in my body.

As the years have passed, my disease has slowly moved throughout my body to where it now has taken the use of my arms, hands and legs and I also now require the use of a motorized wheelchair to be mobile.

Since the car accident, I’ve had to relearn how to do the most simple things in life over and over again, and increasingly depend more upon on others for daily living… Like getting dressed in the morning, bathing, and eating.

Not a fun situation to be in, but throughout it all, alongside my amazing wife, Patrick has always been there. He’s one of those friends who I can completely rely on or I could call at a moment’s notice and I know without a doubt, he’ll be there. I’m lucky to have him in my life and would do anything for him.

For years, we were planning on trying to do a unique trip together; just the two of us, but life somehow kept getting in the way.

So, in the spring of 2012, I was flipping through the TV channels on a lazy Saturday afternoon when I came across a program about the Camino and I was immediately intrigued.

You know, I’ve heard that some people say the Camino “calls” you… And I tend to agree with it. When I first learned about it, it was like something deep inside me was calling me to do it. Almost like I HAD to do it.

A few weeks later, I showed Patrick the recorded TV episode and to my amazement his immediate response was “I’ll push you” and I knew at that very moment he was completely serious.

So fast-forward to today…

After nearly two years of seemingly endless planning, meetings and training, we are now at the point where we are going to begin this epic journey called The Camino.

Starting June 3, 2014 from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, Patrick and I will attempt the Camino Frances or “the French way.” Using a specialized non-motorized off-road wheelchair, Patrick will be pushing me the entire 800 km… yes, this means going up and over the Pyrenees!

As you can imagine, this will not be an easy task for us as I will be 100% dependent upon Patrick (and others) for every aspect of our six week long journey. From sunrise to sunset, from eating to using the restroom, Patrick will not only be pushing me in my wheelchair, but will be looking after my general health and well-being.

So, why are we doing this?

We believe in some way, all of us have limitations. We can be limited by ailments (like mine), circumstances, perceptions, or resources. At worst, these limitations can invite despair, stagnation, or aggression. They can make us stop in our tracks if we let them.

But what if we swallow pride, soften our exteriors, admit these limitations, and ask for help? Can we learn that to achieve our goals requires trust and faith in others? Even when it’s difficult to communicate with others? Can you imagine what is possible?

I can and I hope that even with the immense challenges that Patrick and I are about to face, we will be open to whatever the Camino brings us. We look forward to seeing what wonderful people we will meet along the way and how the journey unfolds before our very eyes.

Additionally, we hope that you can follow along our journey as we will be posting our hardships, joys, moments of immense obstacles and success on the road to Santiago here at CaminoWays.com.

So stay tuned and until next time… Buen Camino!

To learn more about us and our journey, you can also visit: illpushyou.com

Part 2 – I’ll Push You: Mountains and Valleys

CaminoWays
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The CaminoWays.com team.
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24 Responses to “I’ll Push You: The Adventure Begins”

Jo

OMG – You both are totally amazing and I am so inspired by what did. You have such a true friendship! I did the same El Camino starting in April of 2014 and totally understand how difficult it can be with the many challenges along the trail. You definitely are an inspiration to anyone that has a disability showing them anything is possible. As I loved my experience on the El Camino so much, this coming fall I am going to go back and do the Portugal El Camino. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and friendship!


Bob Shannon

I had Guillaine Barre 6 years ago. I struggle to walk. I am mostly in my wheelchair. I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, yet I have wanted to do the Camino for decades. Can I still? Yes…I think now is the time.
Been married 49 years. 70yrs old. Need pusher. Wife has post polio and is housebound.


Nancy Furse

I am so inspired by you two. The journey along the Camino is a life changing experience. I returned from Santiago in June 2014. It was an experience of a life time. Thank you for sharing your story with us all. Wish you all the best. God Bless You. Buen Camino 🙂


kitty formica

I just returned yesterday from Santiago so I know some of what you experienced, but I will never forget what you two have done. “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Thanks too for your personal sharing. It can be hard to know what to keep between yourselves and God but you seem to have nailed it. Thank you! Buen camino.


Ellen

This is a wonderful thing to do with a friend and I hope it went well for you. Even though you go through hardship , the memory brings you joy. I have done the Camino so I understand the task ahead . God go with you always


Push | Hospi-Tales

[…] and now has muscles in his chest that he didn’t even know existed. But they made it. “I’ll push you“. What an […]


Kate Holder

Your Forward moved me to tears. I’ve taken three years to walk the Camino and finished on the 18th June this year. The Camino is the start and it changes the way we look at the World. I call it a “stream of consciousness.” We confront ourselves on the Camino and that’s a good thing. I’m so glad I read this.


Cindy Sanders

I’m rooting for you guys. My friend and I finished our 500 miles on the Camino on June 9th. I’m missing it so love following your inspiring, beautiful journey. Buen Camino!


Kate von Alt

Justin & Patrick –
I just returned June 7th from walking the Camino with my two friends Danni and Elda. We met each other in a child- loss support group, each of us shared the loss of our sons. We traveled with our boys every inch of the “Way”
I can only imagine the amazing inspiration you both are to your fellow Camino “family” members.
We shared an amazing family of fellow travelers who wove in and out of our own journey.
I will pray for your safe travels to Santiago – and also that your Camino brings you the same amazing feeling of peace and love that came to us – all the good & beauty that God put on this fine earth.
Buen Camino – Ulteria!
Kate


Debbie

May this journey bring clarity to your mind, heart and souls. God bless you both!
El Camino!


bjobelub

Been planning for so many years. Now after reading the story “I’ll push you” of the two friends, I will make it hopefully next year.


diana

Spain is a beautiful country! It was pretty challenging when I visited, but you’ll be surrounded by generous people willing to help you along the way. Excited to follow your journey. Vaya con Dios


Deanne

I am equally inspired by both of you and will be praying for you as you journey. Go with God.


Bia Taylor

God Bless you. Don’t ever give up. Bia


Kirsten

Your wives shared your story with me in little cafe in Astorga – what an inspiration for me in the early stages of my own Camino! I wish you the best of luck through the final stages of your journey. Buen Camino!


Jan Costa

The two of you are unbelievable. You are showing the
world what it really means. “To live a dream”
All your intestinal fortitude plus desire plus love make this
journey of yours a reality for others that only sit back and wish they could also. Bless you both with great health and wisdom to write about it for others.
You are paving the way for all of us. Before a dream can become a reality one must summon up the courage to believe “I can!”
May you two continue to enlighten others to take time
out in this lifetime to conquer secret hopes and desires.
Thank you for sharing all you can.
I look forward to more.
I have also dreamed of this since reading Shirley Maclaine`s book!
Blessings, Jan


Dede

All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!!!!! God Bless you both on this amazing adventure of a lifetime.


Marta

Praying for you both! May this adventure be beyond your dreams and yield great fruit. You already are an inspiration to many.
Peace and Blessings from a newbie Peregrina.
Buen Camino!


Angela Troy

You guys are a wonderful. There are no words to describe the Camino. Everybody that does it, gets something different from it. I did with my sisters twice, and in 2012 I did it solo for 5 weeks, it was without doubt the best time of my life. In September my sister and I will walk the dirt roads of the Camino once again, and I cant wait. You guys will laugh, you will cry and will meet the most amazing people, and you will find an inner peace like nothing you felt before. May God keep you strong, Buen Camino my friends. All the very best from Ireland.


Norman Patterson

Will be thinking of you both with every footstep and wheel spin you guys ,are beyond words ! ! From Norman in BELFAST ALL THE BEST


isabel linares

justin and Patrick,Wishing you Buen Camino,just keep us post how is your Camino.
Saludos.
isabel


Jo Siegfried

Dear Justin and Patrick,

We salute and admire you tremendously! Thank you for being so real, for the breadth and transparency of your friendship and I also send warmest admiration to your wives and families for “letting go”.
My son Ray will be joining you along your incredible journey with Amee Hardy. Ray and his 3 siblings and I just watched your several “ill push you” video stories — and are awed. We look forward to supporting you as you set out… We sign off with one of my most treasured Bible verses Jeremiah 29:11…. Salut! Jo Ray Bob Josie and Ford.


Laurie Bryan Larson

Justin and Patrick – I am so excited for you and in awe as well!!! Having completed my first Camino last year over the route you will be traveling, I know that this journey will be one filled with joy, awe, tears, sweat, laughter, and wonder for you both. Please know that you are not alone and I for one am cheering you on as will the many beautiful souls you meet on The Camino. And how wonderful that you will be infusing your souls onto The Camino as you walk in your own way. Many blessings!


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