Hong Kong : IN wheelchair, Lai Chi-wai climbs up skyscraper. Paraplegic climber pulls himself for nearly 10 hours to raise money for spinal cord patients.

Lai Chi-wai became the first in Hong Kong to climb more than 250 metres of a skyscraper while strapped into a wheelchair as he pulled himself up for more than 10 hours on Saturday to raise money for spinal cord patients.

The 37-year old climber, whose car accident 10 years ago left him paralyzed from waist down, could not make it to the top of the 300 metre-tall Nina Tower on the Kowloon peninsula.

''I was quite scared,'' Lai said. ''Climbing up a mountain, I can hold on to rocks or little holes, but with glass, all I can rely on is the rope that I'm hanging off.''

The event raised HK$5.2 million in donations.

Lai, prior to was crowned Asia champion four times for rock climbing and at one point ranked eighth globally.

After his accident, he resumed climbing by attaching his wheelchair to pulley system. Five years ago he ascended the 495-metre high Lion Rock mountain, a local folk culture symbol of Hong Kong's strength and grit.

''Apart from just living, I wondered what drives me? So I began to chase that, knowing that there was a possibility I could climb mountains, even in a wheelchair,'' Lai said.

''In a way, I forgot that I was disabled person, I could still dream and I could still what I liked doing.''

Although he did not make it to the top of the skyscraper, due to safety concerns, Lai hoped to send a message.

''Some people don't understand the difficulties of disabled people, some people think that we are always weak, we need help, we need assistance, we need people's pity,'' Lai said.

''But I want to tell everyone, it doesn't have to be like that. If a disabled person can shine, they can at same time bring opportunity, hope, bring about light, they don't have to be viewed as weak. [Reuters]


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