Why A Once-Paralyzed Twin Falls Doctor Is Climbing Idaho’s Tallest Mountain

Aug 16, 2016

A hospital trying to raise money for a high-tech piece of equipment to help its patients might be newsworthy. Someone who was once paralyzed and is now climbing Idaho’s tallest mountain certainly would be. Now a Twin Falls doctor who thought he’d never walk again is climbing Borah Peak Wednesday in order to raise money for a machine to help his patients learn to walk again.

When Jonathon Myers came to St. Luke's Magic Valley seven years ago, he said right away they needed to get a machine called a Balance Master. After all, the man who is now medical director of rehabilitation says the closest one is in Boise and the machine helps a lot when people are re-learning to walk after a stroke or spinal injury.

One of these had helped him a decade earlier when he broke his neck. It was a car accident just before he was supposed to start medical school. Myers was paralyzed from the neck down for months and doctors didn’t give him good odds on ever recovering. Looking back he says he would have given himself a 2 percent chance of walking again. But Myers did learn to walk and when he eventually got to go to medical school, he specialized in rehab.

Myers' left leg is still paralyzed and he has limited mobility throughout his body. He says anyone who sees him walk knows immediately he has a disability.

“While I’m really grateful I can walk, walking is a very difficult activity for me,” he says. “Literally if I’m sitting down in a room and I have to get up to get something on the other side of the room, I’m going to think two and three times before I go ahead and do that because it’s very taxing. I do other exercise activities on a regular basis. Walking and hiking and climbing is not something I would ever choose to do.”

But Myers has chosen to do all those things. He says after several years of saving, his department only had $20,000 of the $125,000 it needed to buy a Balance Master. So he thought they needed something to inspire people to give.

That’s why six weeks ago he announced he’s climbing Mount Borah. He and his colleagues at St Luke's (some of whom are going up the mountain with him) wrote about the plan and posted it on social media. And Myers says it’s worked. He says St Luke's has received donations from all over the country and even some from Europe. He says they have almost enough now to buy the machine.

Myers' climb is scheduled to start at 3:00 a.m. Wednesday and you can monitor his progress throughout the day on twitter

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

Copyright 2016 Boise State Public Radio