Today, November 13, is the International Day of the Blind, the date is intended to remind society of the attention to people with disabilities, their needs and desires. We tell about the journey of visually impaired Danila Bolshakov, a resident of St. Petersburg

Kamchatka adventures: how a visually impaired traveler conquered a volcano

Kamchatka Adventures: How a Visually Impaired Traveler Conquered a Volcano

Danila was able to visit Kamchatka and even climb a volcano! Our hero believes that jogging at the Sports for Life Charitable Foundation helped him a lot. The Foundation helps people with visual impairments gain physical strength, build confidence in their abilities, make life brighter.

«Now I know where you can see more than 50 shades of gray , but hundreds of shades of a substance called sulfur. On the Kamchatka volcanoes,” says Danila Bolshakov. 

Danila Bolshakov, 36, a composer and sound engineer, is visually handicapped. But he is trying to overcome barriers, and now Kamchatka is in the treasury of memories. Danila is convinced that running in the Marathon in the Dark project helped him overcome the difficulties of traveling and climbing the volcano. The project is being developed by the Sports for Life Charitable Foundation, which for many years has been helping children and adults with disabilities, including visually impaired (visually impaired, blind, deaf-blind) to get involved in sports and make their lives more active and brighter.
It would seem, how is this possible for a person with a visual impairment? Danila has been operated on for cataract and glaucoma since 1989, as well as other vision problems. The right eye sees 18-20 percent in glasses, the left sees only 8. At the competitions, Danila Bolshakov needs volunteer leaders, they help such visually impaired athletes overcome distances. Help came in handy for Danila in Kamchatka. The friends, in whose company he went on a journey, knew about the peculiarities of Danila's health, and were ready to help. The travel company has also been informed of the situation.

Kamchatka adventures: how a visually impaired traveler conquered a volcano

"Even if you are blind, and you will find a leader-accompanying person to help with the initial mountaineering training – and all our guides were trained – there will be no problems. I think it’s not only possible, but even necessary to go to conquer such beautiful and inspiring places, – says Danila. – Even if you do not see anything, but absorb the atmosphere, get enough air. Why do people go in for sports, strive to get even to the Paralympics? I think that the main thing is why a person comes into the world, & nbsp; is to enjoy life and have fun. If there is a desire, aspiration – forget about your limitations, you need to go and do it!».

Dawns, breathing volcanoes, Gendarme, bears and mists
There are many peaks in Kamchatka, where it would be interesting to visit. For example, the Klyuchevskaya hill in Kamchatka – difficult to climb. Only qualified climbers can climb there. But there are also routes on which it is enough to be properly equipped, as well as to have trekking poles (Danila took them with him, a visually impaired traveler needs them all the more). Much depends on the weather, which can change rapidly at any time. In Kamchatka, under a strong wind, Danila caught a cold and came down with a fever. “But if you have motivation, everything can be overcome,” Danila says. And yet he forced himself to get up and go on the long-awaited ascent.

Kamchatka adventures: how a visually impaired traveler conquered a volcano

The company went to Gorely volcano. It has 11 craters that can be seen from a helicopter, and during a walking tour you can see 4-5 craters. Sulfur and steam constantly come out of the craters. The ascent began at around 1000 meters above sea level, the top of this volcano is at around 1750 meters. All actions are important to coordinate with an experienced guide. “There were many such complexities and rules on the ascent. I often walked in the forefront with a guide to listen to him and keep up with the pace. The running that I did in the Marathon in the Dark built muscles that I had not pumped before training. By the way, the baths that we took in the Kamchatka hot springs also gave us energy,” says Danila.

Friends also visited the famous beautiful volcano Avacha – the launch pad is located at 950 meters above sea level, and you need to climb to a height of 2750 meters. Already after 2000 meters the lack of oxygen begins. “We left already at 4 in the morning, with lanterns, it was still dark. It was difficult for me. But we didn't go fast, and I managed. I had to look under my feet more often, and not around, so as not to stumble over an unpredictable terrain,” says Danila.
At an altitude of 2000 meters of the trail there is a stone called the Gendarme. Then the trail goes down a steep slope, and everyone decides for himself whether to go to the end or drink tea with the Gendarme and go back. Visibility deteriorated, and a strong wind knocked down. “You need to go strictly along the path, otherwise in the fog a step left and right can be deadly. It was already the seventh hour of our ascent. After the illness, I again began to feel bad, my ear was shooting. But everything can be won if there is a goal and motivation. This is – overcoming. This is part of the ascent, – Danila shares. – And this experience helped me a lot. Now in life, if I have serious plans in front of me, and on the way I meet   obstacles, I will know: you just need to mobilize the resources of the body, go and do it.

Kamchatka adventures: how a visually impaired traveler conquered a volcano

Sports for Life Foundation: New Horizons for Everyone
Danila Bolshakov says that he is glad that fate brought him together with the Sport for Life Foundation. Prior to this project, Danila was enthusiastically involved in cycling, before doctors forbade running. But the opportunity to train and compete in running competitions with the support of the fund attracted me. Especially in the fund for such athletes with visual impairments and assistants. These are volunteer leaders, they actually become eyes, eyesight for a visually impaired athlete. They tell you where and how to move, warn of obstacles ahead. At a distance, a volunteer-leader runs (or swims) in a pair with a blind athlete, in a paracord (athletes hold on to a special elastic loop, this does not hinder movement and at the same time helps to work smoothly, together). Volunteer leaders of the Sports for Life Foundation purposefully prepares at special trainings, the program of which was developed by the director of the fund, Anastasia Pletmintseva. During the work of the foundation in Moscow, Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, hundreds of volunteer leaders have already been trained, who have received certificates and can be involved in such an unusual type of sports charity. And several hundred people with visual impairments have gained faith in themselves, a new circle of friends thanks to the foundation, set new goals, dream and make their dreams come true.

Here, for example, is what the participants of the trainings, who have already mastered the “volunteer-leader” specialization, say. “I was able to experience the world of people with a visual disability. This is a very rewarding experience of changing the daily behavior that we are used to. And I am very glad that there is an opportunity to help those who really need it,” Anastasia Shestakova, a participant in the training, shares her impressions.

“I am actively involved in sports. But if I do it not just for the sake of finishing, but also for someone, it will add motivation and meaning. And the work of the Sports for Life Foundation – this is a great help for people with disabilities who get the opportunity to live actively,” says Tatyana Akhunova, a participant in the training.
And here is what the ward of the Sports for Life Foundation, the visually impaired Viktoria Krutilina, says: “I used to go in for sports, but just for myself, not effectively.  The project helped me to do it qualitatively. And I also made new friends. And now I know that if you say to yourself: “I can do it!”, then everything is possible! I felt confidence in myself, in my strength. I began to look at myself and life differently.

Someone, having come to the fund, runs just for themselves, someone suddenly feels a desire to actively develop themselves in sports, the wards of the fund with volunteer leaders go to marathons and other serious competitions up to IRONSTAR and IRONMAN. Thanks to the work of the Sports for Life Foundation, In recent years, there have been more and more athletes with various health conditions at sports starts in Russia, they are greeted with a standing ovation! And society is gradually getting rid of stereotypes in relation to people with disabilities.

Kamchatka adventures: how a visually impaired traveler conquered a volcano

After some time, Danila managed to run 4 km, then – 5 km and then Danila took part in the race, overcame 10 km. “Running overwhelmed me. After 7-8 kilometers it becomes like meditation,” Danila shares. And now, with new strength, strong muscles, faith in himself and a desire to expand his capabilities, Danila went to Kamchatka. And he realized his next dream – conquered the volcano! Danila Bolshakov is convinced that it is Marathon in the Dark that and jogging helped, among other things, to conquer the Kamchatka volcanoes. He already knew that this journey was ahead, and he tried to run a lot, he prepared. And of course, everything is important here – both physical and psychological preparation.

“I am glad that fate brought me together with the Sports for Life Foundation, that everything turned out that way. I think that such overcomings, such vivid feelings that I experienced in Kamchatka, this joy, happiness, high – for the sake of all this it is worth going on a trip. And don't be afraid of any restrictions. It feels like I was in the show of Nikolai Drozdov or Discovery, only for real, since I also managed to meet the bears live on the stunning beauty of Kuril Lake! A rolling stone gathers no moss. I urge people with disabilities not to be afraid to change their lives. Let gradually. Let small steps. After all, there are those nearby who will help in this desire, for example, organizations such as the Sports for Life Foundation, its team, volunteers. You feel the shoulder of a friend and leader nearby, you believe in your strengths and capabilities – and now you are overcoming a new and new bar. Let everything work out!».

Sports for Life Charitable Foundation constantly conducts trainings in which he teaches everyone, of any age and background, how to become a volunteer leader, and also invites people with visual impairments to join the project.

Fill out the Volunteer Leader Form and apply here:

Fill out the form trust fund and apply here:

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