In 2010, Jezza Williams slipped and fell ten metres on a canyoning tour in the Swiss Alps. He broke his neck and became paralysed – bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Instead of dwelling on the accident, Jezza has dedicated his time to transforming the outdoor industry, ensuring all people have access to adventure, regardless of their physical abilities. He shared his story – and the beginning of his Mongol Rally adventure with the Macpac Blog.
Jezza is an inspiring guy – not only is he full of life and determined to make the most of it, but he’s also incredibly gutsy – taking on challenges that would make even the most able-bodied people flinch. He’s done everything from throwing himself out of a plane at 12,000 feet, to paragliding and rafting through some pretty tough currents.
“If someone told me what I do is dangerous, I’d say – I believe being locked indoors is way more dangerous. It’s incredibly important that people feel freedom in their lives. There’s nothing worse than being stuck doing something you don’t want to do. The most important thing for people with disabilities is getting out and being able to do anything that they could possibly want – have adventures, and undertake a task without knowing the outcome. I do this every day, but there are many who don’t. I want to change that,” explains Jezza.
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He started his company ‘Makingtrax’ a couple of years ago. The aim of the game is to train outdoors and adventure companies to be more disability-friendly, so that people like Jezza can experience life just like anyone else – no matter their abilities.
“When I first looked into the outdoor industry for people with disabilities, I was blown away by the lack of opportunities there were. I was inspired to give other people the opportunities that I could easily have myself – but it’s way more powerful to give than to take,” says Jezza.
Jezza and his team have worked with bungee jumping companies, canyon swinging companies, back country horse trekking companies and paragliding companies – just to name a few – training their staff based on three key areas.
“It’s all about Adaptation, Education and Practice. We set up different businesses, making sure they’re aware not only of the specific needs that people with disabilities might have, but also the fact that people with disabilities are just as keen for an adventure as anybody else,” he says.
As part of his efforts, Jezza and a team of like-minded friends have taken on a unique challenge – the Mongol Rally. There’s nothing quite like this race anywhere in the world – it covers over 10,000km of bad roads, no roads and roads heading completely the wrong way from London, England, to Ulan Bator, Mongolia .
The race has three simple rules:
1. You can only take a tiny vehicle with an engine size of 1L or less (motorbikes are allowed 125cc) – Jezza has chosen a Toyota Yaris,
2. You’re not allowed any backup support so if you break down (highly likely) – good luck
3. You have to raise at least $1992 for charity.
Jezza’s set his team the ambitious goal of raising at least $50,000 – money that will go towards getting more people with disabilities into the outdoors to experience adventures.
“We’re determined to help as many people as we can, so we encourage all who can, to get behind us and help us to bring adventure into the lives of even more people.”
The team set out from London in the last couple of weeks and have already passed through Switzerland, and now into Germany They’ve already proven their resilience, overcoming the first major challenge of the trip when their car was broken into while they were out catching up with some local friends in Interlaken.
“All our computers and camera gear is gone and oil was also poured throughout the car – but at the end of the day, that’s just materialistic. We’re determined to keep going, and we won’t let something like this stop us.”
Macpac is proud to get behind Jezza by providing him with gear to keep him safe from the elements on his adventure. You can follow his journey on the Makingtrax Facebook page, and we’ll also be updating you on the Macpac Blog.
You can find out more on the Makingtrax Mongol Rally challenge on Trax Challenge.
You can donate to the Makingtrax team on the Makingtrax Mongolia Challenge givealittle page.