Ten Feet at a Time - Cindy Abbott

I love TED talks, and whilst browsing Youtube the other day I searched for Wegener's Disease and this video came up as a result. It is 15 minutes long and well worth a watch. While not all of us could climb a mountain, Cindy is an inspiration to everyone living with a chronic illness.

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Cindy Abbott and thirty million Americans have rare diseases that often go undiagnosed or treated properly. She became an advocate to raise rare awareness for the National Organization of Rare Disorders and is attempting to become the first woman (and second person) to both summit Mt. Everest and complete the 1050-mile Alaskan Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Her story of moving Beyond Limits, 10 Feet at a time is inspiring.

At the age of 48, and with almost no mountaineering experience, Cindy Abbott decides to climb Mt. Everest. A few months after that fateful decision, she becomes functionally blind in one eye and is subsequently diagnosed with Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare, incurable and life-threatening disease. Thirty million Americans have rare diseases and before her climb Cindy became an advocate to raise rare disease awareness for the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD). After fifty-one days of working her way up the mountain, on May 23, 2010, she stood at the top of the world holding a NORD Banner and became the 40th America female to summit Mt. Everest.

In the following months, Cindy wrote and published Reaching Beyond the Clouds: From Undiagnosed to Climbing Mt. Everest.

Cindy is once again reaching for the unreachable: To become the first woman (and second person) to summit Mt. Everest and complete the 1050-mile Alaskan Iditarod Sled Dog Race: two of the world’s most extreme adventure sports.

My journey shows how adversity can elicit hidden strength, and I hope to inspire people to live life to its fullest and reach for their dreams.
— Cindy Abbott


Cindy is 55 years old and lives in Irvine California. She is a wife and mother, and teaches Health Science at California State University, Fullerton.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)