PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland man who was once told he’d never walk again hopes to set a world record by climbing the tallest mountain on every continent — and he plans to achieve it in just 6 months.
From inside his Portland home, Colin O’Brady reminisced on his first triathlon in 2009.
“This was a big race for me,” O’Brady explained. “Not only did I complete it, but I ended up winning the entire race …and there were 5,000 participants.”
But it’s the memories of what happened the year before that define his career.
Before settling onto Wall Street with an economics degree from Yale, O’Brady traveled to Thailand. On a local beach, he and a group of other tourists tried to clear a flaming jump rope.
“The rope wrapped around my legs, tripped me, sprayed kerosene up to my neck,” O’Brady said. “Luckily the water was about 10 feet away from me, so I jumped into the ocean to put out the flames.”
O’Brady was left with second and third degree burns on his body.
“Mostly it was my legs and feet,” he said.
A year of therapy helped fight off the growing scar tissue that doctors said would keep him from ever running again.
“For no reason, I really don’t know why, I said, ‘you know what, I’m going to beat the odds. I’m going to complete a triathlon,'” O’Brady said.
After winning his first triathlon in Chicago 6 years ago, he went on to compete in countless races. His new passion to compete took him to 25 countries, and helped culminate his most epic endeavor yet.
“There’s got to be a way to leverage this, to drive a bigger impact and, for me, the fight against childhood obesity is such an important cause,” O’Brady said. “My project is called Beyond 7/2 and I aim to break the world record for the Explorers Grand Slam.”
To this day, only 42 people have completed the mountaineering challenge. O’Brady hopes to be the youngest person to top the tallest peak on every continent, and trek to both poles.
He said he plans to raise $1 million along the way to promote healthy choices.
“I really want to see kids inspired and excited to get outside,” O’Brady said. “I think that this project gives them a small role model into what that looks like.”
In the United States, 1 in 3 children is considered obese. O’Brady hopes his donations will help 20 million of them.
But he isn’t doing it alone: his fiancée is promoting the project. Fittingly, the pair got engaged on top of a mountain.
O’Brady’s true test of endurance is going beyond it all, and more than defining his career, he’s changing other lives forever.
“I’m just trying to do this project and create something meaningful with it,” he said. “That’s enough of a reward for me.”
O’Brady will spend the rest of the year training. He’s currently gearing up to race in Ironman Japan.
He’ll start his expedition in January.