Neelusha Memon isn't the sort of person who gives up easily.

The 29-year-old, who was the first legally blind person to complete the Coast to Coast, is still looking to be the first blind woman to climb the Seven Summits of the world.

The Wellingtonian had hoped to start her bid to complete the challenge last year with a Sport NZ supported summit of Mount Aconcagua in Argentina.

Her dreams were dashed when her guide suffered a knee ligament injury.


Memon was forced to hire a replacement for more than $30,000 or cancel her trip. She could not raise the funds in time and was unable to make the trip.

Memon will climb with the help of the Limitless With Support team.

Her first summit will be Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, which she plans to climb in August.

"This is a great opportunity to get the first of the seven summits under my belt," said Memon.

"After the disappointment of not being able to attempt Aconcagua last year, I lost quite a bit of motivation but receiving this grant for Kili has brought it all back again.

"I realised I still want to be the first blind woman in the world to complete an ascent of the highest summit on each continent and I know that I can with support."

The major difficulty that Memon will face as she climbs the 5895m Kilimanjaro will be her ability to acclimatise as she moves up the mountain. If her body does not complete this process in time, she could get oedema which could lead to death. It is for this reason that only 10 per cent of people reach the summit.

Memon believed that with the Limitless With Support team, which is made up of her friends from Sweden and in New Zealand, on her side, conquering the mountain will be achievable.


"They are all able climbers and will be my support which makes it a lot more accessible for me."

The intrepid blind athlete has been sponsored to take on this challenge with the airfares to Kenya paid by the Wellington Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Trust.

This means she can put some of her own money into the provisions the team needs.

The top of Mount Kilimanjaro is a long way from where Memon has come from. In 2000, she was hospitalised with what she thought was a serious case of the flu. She ended up in a coma as her body battled the illness. Memon awoke four months later with a brain injury and unable to walk, talk or even swallow.

Through rehabilitation and tenacity she recovered these motor-skills, but is still disabled in sight and balance.

In taking on the Seven Peaks challenge, Memon wants to change attitudes towards people with disabilities and change beliefs about what they can achieve.

"When people see someone with a disability able to get out and love the outdoors it can raise the question as to why they are wasting opportunities when they possess all the abilities. I hope to become a role model to both disabled and non-disabled people."