Arash Bayatmakou, Co-founder of NoLi, athlete, MBA, TED talk speaker, blogger, amazing cook, friend of many, long distance swimmer, husband, son, guitar player, wedding officiant, friend, recover-er from SCI, and now... PUBLISHED AUTHOR! Arash has recently published his book Little Big Steps, a story of his journey since he sustained a spinal cord injury over 5 years ago. His book is raw, honest, and important for everyone to read. Whether you have a spinal cord injury yourself, know someone who does, work in healthcare, or want to see an important prospective on life please read this book.
Purchase Arash's amazing book, Little Big Steps: A Life-Changing Injury and the Inspirational Journey To Overcome The Odds, at the link below:
As we finished out our final triathlon of 2017 we were left counting the number of highlights and personal achievements from our 2017 triathlons.
1. First triathlon Alina completed without assistance (pushing bike or chair) from Ben.
2. First triathlon Drew hand cycled in a solo hand cycle and longest distance ever solo hand cycled.
3. Personal PR for 1 mile swim for Arash.
4. 2nd place podium for John and Abdullah.
5. 2 teams completing Olympic distance in Oakland Tri (Team: Arash, Adam, Brita and Team: John, Abdullah, and Jason).
6. over 25 volunteers coming out to assist with water station, biking with athletes, assist with transfers, cheer on athletes.
7. Many of our athletes competing in their first triathlon/race.
Stay tuned for next years dates for our 2018 Triathlon Season!!!!!
Really proud and grateful for all of our participants!
On July 22, 2017, one of our very own co-founders, Arash Bayatmakou, stood before the love of his life, Brita, and said "I Do". *spoiler alert: She said "I Do" too!
I'll set the scene so that all of you reading this can feel the love.
A beautiful, sunny Saturday. Redwoods towering around us, friends (old and new) surrounding the beautiful (like, really, really good looking) couple. Music playing, tears running down every cheek (happy tears), readings, joy, love, family, organic surroundings, flowers, and a kiss.
One thing that was not present during the ceremony was a wheelchair. As many of you may know, Arash sustained a spinal cord injury over 5 years ago. He has worked harder than anyone I know to continue his recovery and prove everyone wrong who said he would always be in a wheelchair. He set a goal to be able to stand and look at Brita eye-to-eye. He has spent hours upon hours every week working towards his goal and it has shown. For the entire ceremony, Arash stood tall, looked an amazing partner eye-to-eye, and made a beautiful commitment.
On July 22, 2017, one of our very own co-founders, Arash Bayatmakou, STOOD before the love of his life, Brita, and said "I Do". #nolimits
Congratulations to Arash and Brita. We love you both and are so excited for the two of you!
Pictured above: Our happy NoLi family of 4 (Kinley, Erin, Arash, and Rachel) from Arash and Brita's post wedding brunch in Big Trees Park.
Pictured below: Our happier NoLi family of 5 (Rachel, Kinley, Arash, Brita, and Erin)
I found myself lucky enough to be able to attend the No Barriers Summit this year in Squaw Valley, Tahoe. It was my first No Barriers Summit and after all that I saw, learned, and all of the people I met it will for sure not be my last. The 4 days consisted of activities for people with disabilities and their friends or family that joined them along with a large conference room filled with vendors, resources, gadgets, non-profits, food and informational booths to explore. Each day ended with music, inspirational speakers, performances, comedians, and awards. Without writing about everything I saw here is a list of some of the awesome organizations and activities out there... Check them out!
Adapted activities that I saw or participated in (and the organizations providing the activity):
Cycling (BORP, City of Reno, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra)
White water rafting and Kayaking (Environmental Travel Companions)
Canoe, Kayak, Paddle Boarding and Snow Skiing (Achieve Tahoe)
Rock Climbing (No Limits Tahoe)
SCUBA diving (Cody Unser First Step Foundation)
Archery (National Ability Center)
Self-Defense (1 Touch Project)
Boxing and TRX (Rustin Hughes
Wheelchair Rugby (High Fives Team)
Meditation and Conscious Breathing (Zen Warrior Training)
Crossfit (Max Conserva)
For questions on all of the activities that we are a part of please reach out to us at email@example.com
Last month I went to an amazing talk at Lighthouse For the Blind and Visually Impaired. These talks are called “Lighthouse Listening’s” and they showcase a different speaker to their community, many of whom are blind or visually impaired. When walking into the Lighthouse headquarters I was given a blindfold before taking my seat. Why? Because I not here to see someone speak, I was there to listen. Small change, big impact.
I sat listening to Erik Weihenmayer, an impressive athlete who has summited Everest, completed the Seven Summits, climbed El Capitan, solo kayaked down the Grand Canyon, and accomplished many more impressive elite adventures. Obviously he is an accomplished athlete, less obvious to me when I was wearing a blindfold, he is blind. You can learn more about him by reading his books that include Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye Can See, The Adversity Advantage, Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness, No Barriers, and many more. Or, “google” him, he’s fascinating.
More than listening to him talk about his adventures, what really stuck with me was his answer to a seemingly obvious question during the Q and A after his talk. A listener from the audience asked, “what limits you the most?” (Cue my head to say “the fact that he can’t see the rocks, the cliffs, the turns, the rapids, etc”…WRONG) “Fear”, Erik replied. He went on to rattle off the many times that he didn’t try something simply out of fear and how universal that concept is. He said that regardless of someone’s ability, disability, impairments, age, knowledge, or experience, everyone has limited themselves at some point due to fear, usually the fear of failing.
That night I thought at length about how many of us have things that we have no control of try to limit us. Why do we let something we do have control of, like FEAR, limit us as well?
How can we change our fear or our fear of failing? Educate ourselves, ask for help, find guidance, practice, breathe, overcome it, find others who have been through it, accept that perseverance after failure only makes us stronger, FACE IT. Easier said than done, I know.
Please contact us with any fears that are limiting you. Lets see if together we can find a way to overcome fear and continue adventuring.
Photos and video of Alvaro and I overcoming fears and climbing to the top of the rock wall at the No Barriers Summit in Tahoe, CA
Stay tuned for more stories from our NoLi athletes as they face fears and push through limits.