A group of friends from Odder, Jutland have been the talk of the town (the world, actually) since they decided to take their wheelchair bound friend Jacob Riis-Nielsen around the world. Jacob Riis-Nielsen has Machado-Joseph Disease, a rare inherited neurodegenerative disease resulting in lack of muscle control and coordination.
The four friends who met Jacob at Egmonthøjskolen School in Odder, have helped him to scale the Galdhøpiggen Mountain in Norway. Nikolai Rosbach, one of the members of ‘Riis Expedition’ told that the experience has been one of the craziest things he has been a part of as he pushed and pulled Jacob with his friends to the highest point in northern Europe.
“De 5 pa tur” (The 5 Travellers) as they call themselves, have been around the world taking Jacob Riis-Nielsen to meet Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, having a blast crowd-surfing at jungle parties in Thailand in their four and a half month journey.
The trip wasn’t as smooth as it sounds. The group met with challenging and difficult situations as it took 3 days just to reach the foot of the mountain.
But this has not stopped Jacob from living his life to the fullest. In New Zealand, Jacob dove from the sky, experiencing the thrill of a sky dive. Now, Jacob has set his eyes on Abel Tasman Track. Being a 60 km long walking track, Abel Tasman Coast track features huts, campsites and the Totaranui Campground.
Katrine Bechsgaard Nielsen, Jacob’s friend says that though he has Joseph’s disease, he always looks happy, is always brave to do things like jumping out of a plane and his physical limitations will not stop him.
The wheelchair that Jacob has, is an off-road wheel chair, meaning it can be taken on the mountains, and it can float on water. As travel companion, Katrine said, "It has helped us considerably, having the wheelchair." All the people they have met so far in their journey have been very kind and generous.
Jacob Riis-Nielsen and his trip have become a great source of inspiration for people all around the world. He wants to live, laugh and be happy, and he’s not going to let his diagnosis come in the way.
Sometimes we are so focused on the destination that we think less about the journey and forget to live in the moment. Jacob Riis-Nielsen and his friends have reminded us that it is the experience of the journey that stays with us long after we’ve reached our destination.