February 12, 2013 Slideshows

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Paraplegic Michael Mills climbs Stone Mountain 

Heather Hendricks
Not long after dawn on Saturday morning, February 9th, Michael Mills, an athlete and paraplegic, gathered with a group of people to attempt a climb up Stone Mountain without the use of his wheelchair, using only his hands, arms, knees, and sheer willpower to reach the top.
Heather Hendricks
Mills trains almost every day of the week. He’s broken his wrist three times, and the day before the hike had his shoulder looked at for pain due to overtraining. None of this deters him. Like his father, whom Mills says taught him this tenacity, his motto is “Go for broke.” And he’s gathered people around him that believe the same thing. Obstacle racers, people who have been bitten by the fitness bug, and people who decided to change their lives have formed a community of support.
Heather Hendricks
Justin Dean, whose challenge was to carry Mills’ wheelchair to the top of Stone Mountain, waits above a particularly challenging part of the trail.
Heather Hendricks
Not complaining once during the crawl, Mills said the only pain he really felt was the burning in his triceps. Mills gives 100 percent to every challenge he encounters, but is humble enough to ask the people around him how he can make their ascent more comfortable. Noticing someone was cold, he offered his coat.
Heather Hendricks
There was never a moment of doubt about whether he would make it to the top. Not making it was “never an option,” Mills said. Once he got to the top, the option to quit was there and the thought briefly crossed his mind to say "I’m done." “But,” Mills said, “I told myself I was going up and going down.” So he did.
Heather Hendricks
There was never a moment of doubt about whether he would make it to the top. Not making it was “never an option,” Mills said. Once he got to the top, the option to quit was there and the thought briefly crossed his mind to say "I’m done." “But,” Mills said, “I told myself I was going up and going down.” So he did.
Heather Hendricks
Michael Mills finishes the last stretch of the hike with his wife, Tiffany, by his side. “The moment they [Tiffany and their son, Brandon, who had been at baseball tryouts] showed up, was really the best part.” He was tired, but got a new energy when he saw them. She encouraged him for the last of the hike, telling him, “You got this. You’ve trained for this.”
Heather Hendricks
Michael Mills reaches the top of Stone Mountain after a four-hour hike on his hands and knees. A crowd of supporters cheers him as he finally stops to rest. “Being paralyzed could have been a terrible thing,” Mills said. “But for me it’s a blessing. I have a beautiful wife and three beautiful kids. I’m blessed.” His message on Saturday – Don’t ever let anything stop you.
Heather Hendricks
Michael Mills checks out the view at the top of Stone Mountain. The initial inspiration for this climb happened about a year ago while he was waiting on his wife and son to come down from Stone Mountain. Everyone was smiling, and Mills decided he wanted to see firsthand what all the smiles were for.
9/9
Heather Hendricks
Michael Mills checks out the view at the top of Stone Mountain. The initial inspiration for this climb happened about a year ago while he was waiting on his wife and son to come down from Stone Mountain. Everyone was smiling, and Mills decided he wanted to see firsthand what all the smiles were for.
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