Renee Bruns, who was diagnosed with diastrophic dwarfism, has traveled to 117 countries and territories.
Renee Bruns' zest for life is something we all can learn from. She is a specially-abled woman from Georgia in the US who traveled to 117 of the 195 UN-recognized countries and territories in a wheelchair. She recently broke the Guinness World Record (GWR) for the most countries (55) visited in one year.
On their website, GWR wrote about Bruns, “When Renee was 5 years old she took her first plane ride to New York City. It was at that moment that she realized she needed to see and experience the world. Renee also wants to prove to other children and young adults with limitations that ‘the unimaginable is possible’.”
Bruns took to Instagram and shared a photograph of her holding the GWR certificate, seated in a wheelchair. She also documented her explorations on the platform. From a hotel that seemed like a modern-day tree house in the Solomon Islands, racing with a little girl in Palau and kayaking in the cold waters of Antarctica to watching the penguins, Bruns had experiences of a lifetime during these explorations.
“I think it’s one of the silver linings of having a disability, I started to see the world from a different perspective,” Bruns told CNN Travel. “I was thinking, ‘Well, what’s next?’” After having visited all 50 US states, she soon began traveling internationally, visiting nearly 70 countries, including Peru, Cambodia, Laos, Kenya, and Turkey in the following two decades or so. “It was a very scary and liberating experience for me,” she admits. “I don’t have a dedicated medical assistant or a helper if you will.”
“My absolute favorite memory in Antarctica was kayaking…I cannot explain how surreal it is to be floating on The Southern Ocean in a small piece of plastic, knowing that there could be whales and seals living their lives right below the water’s surface,” she wrote about her experience in Antarctica.
She was diagnosed with diastrophic dwarfism — a skeletal dysplasia that impacts cartilage and bone development, as per CNN. “In a strange kind of way, (being a wheelchair user) has allowed me to see humanity differently than an average traveler will see, because they can just go about, and step down that sidewalk and back up again,” she told CNN.
She finds boarding a plane difficult and is of the view that airplanes need to be more accessible for people with disabilities. She planned a month before visiting any new country and searched for hotels that have ramp facilities. Despite the plans, there were difficult circumstances, however, people came forward to help her.
“I’ve had tons of piggyback rides from men all over the world. I’ve had women and men come and grab the front or the back of my wheelchair and help me up a flight of stairs. So it always works out,” she told CNN.
She hopes that her experiences will help others like her to get out there and explore more of the world. “My biggest message would be to all of the young adults and children thinking about doing this, who are afraid to do it, especially if you have limitations, just jump in and do it,” she says. “It’s a big world and there’s a lot to see. You won’t regret it.”
Cover Image Source: Instagram | wheelstravels