Calgary, Canada – A trucker for more than 40 years, Schlosser was involved in a serious highway crash in Utah in 2006, leaving him confined to a wheelchair. Years later, he’s travelling some of the same routes he drove before but at a far more relaxed speed.
He is currently trekking more than 5,000 kilometres in his manually propelled titanium wheelchair from his Calgary home to Mazatlán, Mexico.
Called the Warren Schlosser International Trek for Awareness, he hopes to draw attention to the extraordinary feats people with disabilities can accomplish and shatter the idea that disability defines someone’s existence.
“Some people swim, some people do yoga and some people even go to bingo to take their mind off things – and I just wheel,” he told Postmedia while taking a break in Kansas on Saturday. “I just want to show people there’s a positive side to life.”
He left Calgary in July after planning the trip for more than three years and has already progressed through Alberta, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. He’s soon to roll through Oklahoma, Texas and into Mexico’s Coahuila, Sinaloa and, finally, the coastal city of Mazatlán just before Christmas.
During a typical day, Schlosser gets on the road around 8 am and travels until the sun begins to dip. Trailing behind him in red and blue animal carriages, and sometimes trudging beside him, are his two sidekicks. Taquito, a seven-month-old kitten, and Luna, an almost eight-month-old pup, join Schlosser as he averages about 35 kilometres a day.
If his four-legged companions get too hot during the day, they get a reprieve in the motorhome, manned by a small support team, that follows behind. It’s also where Schlosser rests each night.
“People say ‘you’re crazy’ and stuff like that, but I say it’s much more fun being a harmless crazy and meeting a lot of good people and finding out different stories all the way along,” said Schlosser, who said that learning about other people’s hardships has been the highlight of his trip so far.
“I’ve talked to guys who have lost legs, who have been squished by cars, have pounds of metal in them and all these different things, and they are still going,” he said. “It shows you how strong the human spirit or nature is.”
Schlosser is up front about the adversity he has faced, including the death of his wife early on and having to raise four boys on his own. When he was first confined to a wheelchair, he said the biggest challenge was allowing himself to ask for help.
Since then, it’s been one small victory at a time.
“You have to have some perseverance and go through some of this stuff. Everybody out there has different challenges and it just depends on what you want to do with them,” he said. “Life is good.”
During his trek, Schlosser is also raising funds through a GoFundMe to cover his expenses and support six different charities, two in each of the three countries he’s travelling through. In Canada, donations will go toward STARS Air Ambulance and CNMGD – Homeless & Community Support.
His goal is $100,000. As of Monday afternoon, he had raised just over $6,000.