HONG KONG – Rock climber Lai Chi-wai becomes the first in Hong Kong to climb more than 250 metres of a skyscraper while strapped into a wheelchair. In an effort to raise fund for spinal cord patients, Lai Chi pulled himself up the Nina Tower on the Kowloon peninsula for more than 10 hours on Saturday.
The 37-year-old climber, whose car accident 10 years ago left him paralysed from waist down, could not make it to the top of the 300 metre-tall building due to safety reasons.
“I was quite scared,” Lai said. “Climbing up a mountain, I can hold onto rocks or little holes, but with glass, all I can really rely on is the rope that I’m hanging off.”
The event raised HK$5.2 million ($670,639) in donations.
Lai, prior to 2011, was crowned Asia champion four times for rock climbing and at one point ranked eighth globally.
After his accident, he resumed climbing by attaching his wheelchair to a pulley system. Five years ago he ascended the 495-metre high Lion Rock mountain, a local folk culture symbol of Hong Kong’s strength and grit.
“Apart from just living, I wondered what drives me? So I began to chase that, knowing that there was a possibility I could climb mountains, even in a wheelchair,” Lai said.
“In a way, I forgot that I was a disabled person, I could still dream and I could still do what I liked doing.”
Lai hopes to send a message through this feat.
“Some people don’t understand the difficulties of disabled people, some people think that we are always weak, we need help, we need assistance, we need people’s pity,” Lai said.
“But, I want to tell everyone, it doesn’t have to be like that. If a disabled person can shine, they can at the same time bring about opportunity, hope, bring about light, they don’t have to be viewed as weak.”