Caleb Hyndman is legally blind, but it did not stop him from scaling the climbing wall Sunday at the Washington State University Student Recreation Center in Pullman.
The enthusiastic 12-year-old Lewiston boy was the only child to participate in Sunday’s Courageous Kids Climbing event.
The nonprofit organization provides free opportunities for people — mostly children — with physical and developmental disabilities to experience various forms of rock climbing in Idaho, Washington, Nevada and California, said Courageous Kids Climbing Event Coordinator Jeff Riechmann.
Hyndman, who can see slightly, was born with a condition in which his eyesight is expected to deteriorate over time. Sunday, he eagerly strapped on a climbing harness and climbing shoes before his first ascent.
“Let’s do this,” he said.
With the help and encouragement of a couple of climbing wall employees and a Pullman Fire Department reserve firefighter, Hyndman climbed halfway up the wall, or about 20 feet, before asking to come down.
“I was pretty high up there,” Hyndman said.
He reached the summit on a different part of the wall for his second attempt. While suspended at the top of the wall, he yelled “Nana” to his grandmother, Cynda Hyndman, down below.
“My favorite part probably would have to be getting to the top of that middle wall,” Caleb Hyndman said.
The boy’s positive energy was present throughout the morning as he joked with those who helped him and smiled even when he struggled during his ascents up the wall.
“It’s amazing. It’s infectious,” said Michael Chapman, a PFD firefighter, of the boy’s enthusiasm. “It really is and you can see from everybody who’s here just smiling, beaming. How can you not?”
Cynda Hyndman said her grandson is a “can-do guy” who is bright, curious and lives a joyful life.
“What’s really enjoyable is watching them start nervous and as you just saw with this young man, he got over that fear and he’s wanting to get to the top each time,” said Chapman, who free climbed a portion of the wall multiple times to help Caleb Hyndman find his climbing holds.
Chapman and three other firefighters were at the event Sunday.
“I think the unsung heroes in this are these firefighters,” Cynda Hyndman said.
Chapman said Pullman firefighters have helped at Courageous Kids Climbing events at the University of Idaho Student Recreation Center climbing wall. Sunday’s Courageous Kids Climbing event was the first one held in Pullman.
After a couple more climbing attempts, Caleb Hyndman put on a yellow and orange fire department jacket and helmet and climbed into the front seat of a PFD truck parked outside the building.
PFD Capt. Mark Johnson spent several minutes explaining the fire engine’s equipment and how they operate.
Riechmann, who lives in McCall, Idaho, said he started Courageous Kids Climbing in 2014 and he puts on more than a dozen events each year.
He said rock climbing helps children to problem solve, focus, lessen height fears and builds confidence.
“For the child or person that has physical challenges, we’re taking them out of the horizontal world and we’re letting them experience the vertical world,” Riechmann said.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.