Teen With Cerebral Palsy Climbs Sydney Harbour Bridge

Put in intensive care for the first few months of his life and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy shortly thereafter, Eric Barnett’s doctors never could have predicted that at age 16, he would summit the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The summit of the bridge, which stands nearly 500 ft above sea level, requires visitors to hike 1,437 steps to the top. Eric climbed the bridge with 30 of his friends and family, as well as an Australian news team, who broadcasted the event live on national Australian TV. Upon reflection of his walk and monumental climb, Eric said, “It felt surreal and amazing to reach the top.”

Paying it forward

Six months ago, Eric’s mother, Karen Barrett, came up with the idea for Eric to hike to the top of the Harbour Bridge. The climb would represent how much he has overcome in the last sixteen years. The funds raised through Eric’s climb went to the Donnica Clarke Foundation. The organization “offers financial and moral bolser to young athletes, across all sports from the Central Coast region of New South Wales, Australia.”

There is “no magic pill”

It took years of sheer determination and hard work before Eric, at age twelve, finally took his first steps. Today, the wheelchair that he used for the first 12 years of his life is collecting dust in the Barrett family garage.

Years ago, Karen decided not to receive treatment from the medics who once told her that her son would never walk. Instead, she opted to use alternative treatments and training sessions with Australian therapist Luke Waters. In preparation for his big climb, Eric trained with Luke for six days a week, in the gym and walking up stairs.

Karen says that Eric’s doctors are amazed when he comes in for his yearly x-rays and shows them just how far he has come. Surgery and therapy helped him along the way, but his mother points out that there is “no magic pill.” Instead, she attributes his unbelievable achievement to his determination and powerful character; “He always had a sparkle in his eye, even as a baby.”

To read more, visit the news program that sponsored Eric’s climb, Studio 10.