A Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Resource

A Picture: Worth A Thousand Words, But There’s More to the Story

Story written by: carol

You may have seen it before; many people have, after all, as it is a picture that has gained national attention on multiple occasions over the last couple years. In the picture, a teenager with cerebral palsy is pictured sitting in a roller pack along with his father, in front of the Delicate Arch in Utah. The picture, which was taken as part of a “Share the Experience” contest sponsored by the federal lands – in which contestants were called upon to submit a photo taken at any federal agency, national park, or Bureau of Land Management site – was accompanied by the following caption:

“Perseverance. Shared by both the Arch in withstanding time and change, and the resolve of a father to hike his disabled son to the Arch to experience the incredible symbol of natural beauty and strength. Retired Law Enforcement Officer James Geier hiked his 18-year-old son Jonah Geier three miles, and 480 feet over slick-rock trails, and up red rock steps to share with Jonah a worldwide symbol of strength and endurance. Neither Geier nor Arch is deterred by challenges.”

That photo ended up receiving an honorable mention in the contest under the category “fan favorites,” and it made it into the top 10 photos chosen out of more than 21,000. Recently, on Father’s Day, the U.S. Department of Interior re-posted the photo on their Instagram account, and the picture received over 10,000 “likes” – once more demonstrating the power a single picture can have.

But what about the boy in the picture – the 18-year-old in the roller pack who weighs only 70 pounds? Sure, a picture can be worth a thousand words…but it can never tell the entire story.

The boy in the picture – Jonah Geier – lives without the use of his limbs due to the cerebral palsy he has had since birth. While some might see this as the sort of disability that would completely rob someone of a shot at life, however, Jonah’s parents never viewed things this way. And as outdoor enthusiasts, the first way in which they wanted to make sure they gave Jonah a shot at a normal life was by finding creative ways for him to be able to spend time outdoors.

When Jonah was younger – and lighter – his mother and father would take turns carrying him on their hikes. As he began to get older and heavier, things changed a bit, and the responsibility of carrying Jonah shifted to his father. And then, it became time to find a way for Jonah to be able to go on hikes with his parents without either of them having to carry him. The solution to their problem, it turned out, did not yet exist, but this did not stop them. Instead, they got in touch with a man who makes roller packs designed like a Native American travois – typically used by outdoorsmen to carry their gear. The designer of the roller pack customized one for Jonah that included a spring seat system, footplates, and a seat belt. Soon, Jonah was in the great outdoors once more, enjoying his unique transportation through the beauty around him.

In addition to his love for the outdoors, Jonah – who is now 20 years old – is a high school graduate, a news aficionado and an avid gamer. He has an infectious smile, and he has a bright and clear future ahead of him. And yes, both the picture that made Jonah famous and the story behind it are exceptional – but even beyond this, Jonah himself is an exceptional young man, a young man who is sure to continue making an impact everywhere he goes.