Bend teen, dad climb mountains, reach goals

First person with Down syndrome to reach Everest base camp

POSTED: 6:48 PM PDT April 10, 2013    UPDATED: 11:43 AM PDT April 11, 2013 
Bend father-son duo talk about quest to Everest
BEND, Ore. -

A smile is never too far from 15-year old Eli Reimer's face, even at 17,598 feet.

"For him, even if he was tired, it didn't take much to get him to smile. And that did inspire us," Eli's dad, Justin Reimer, said Wednesday, after father and son returned home from the adventure of a lifetime.

For nearly two weeks, the two trekked through the woods in Nepal, headed for the base of Mount Everest.

"It was very taxing," Reimer said. "I was very consumed with his care and wanting to make sure he was okay, and praying for him every step of the way."

Every day they set goals, treating each accomplishment as if they had reached the summit.

"It was surreal, in the sense that you prepare to get to that moment," Reimer said, "particularly the implications that it was for Eli and this whole adventure."

After weeks of preparations, and a grueling climb, they finally reached base camp.

"You're the only 15-year-old with Down syndrome to ever stand right here!" Reimer said. "How cool is that?"

The climb was not only a challenge for the father-and-son duo, but a way to raise awareness that people with Down syndrome are just like you and me.

"Standing there, in the midst of all these massive mountains," Reimer said, "having Eli lead us into base camp -- and he's smiling widely and really enjoying the moment. To him, it was a victory."

The pair say their next adventure will be this summer, as they head to the Ukraine to help others with special needs.