A group of friends from Edmonton, Alberta wanted to visit the waterfall in the Grotto Canyon trail near Canmore. The friends, who initially met through local church outings, have known each other for several years and regularly take hiking trips together.
This trip would require the five friends – Aaron Friesen, Willy Peters, Cornie Klassen, Benny Thiesen, and Alvin Wolf – to venture on a four kilometre hike to get to the waterfall. But the terrain is steep and rough. And 21-year-old Friesen, who has spastic bilateral cerebral palsy, has been in a wheelchair his entire life.
Off they went on Sunday, August, 2nd. The plan was to push Aaron’s wheelchair where they needed to go. The group quickly realized it wasn’t going to work given the landscape, and they’d have to figure out another way to get to the waterfall.
Willy thought up a plan to stick logs under the wheelchair and carry Aaron – sort of a makeshift litter, which is what queens were once carried on. It worked.
Onlookers were impressed and inspired by this act of love.
You see, giving up or taking the trip without Friesen didn’t enter the friends’ minds. Said Alvin, “Our friendship is pretty awesome, and it’s definitely noticeable when one of us is missing.” And Willy, “We just wanted to see the waterfall, and Aaron goes wherever we go.”
Friesen has met many who have expressed pity at his condition, but he says, “My family and friends know that that’s not what I want… What I want is to be treated like I belong and they do a great job of that… My friends are amazing! I thank God so much for providing me with such a great support group that has helped me gain the confidence, courage, and strength needed to live a fulfilling life.”
Friends are there to support you and carry you when you need a little boost – and as we see with Aaron’s group of friends, we can take that figuratively and literally.