What a joy to be able to make a dream come true – especially if you can do it for a friend!
We all have dreams and aspirations and strive to realize them. To have the opportunity and ability to fulfil someone else’s dream can be just as rewarding as fulfilling our own.
For marathon runner and athlete, Marios Giannakou, climbing the highest mountain in Greece, Mt Olympus, was an easy one. For his friend Eleftheria Tosiou, it was not only a dream but an impossibility: because Eleftheria is wheelchair-bound from a congenital mobility disability.
Eleftheria is 22 years old and studies biology at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. When they met through a mutual friend, she told Marios of her futile desire to climb Olympus.
Marios had previously climbed to the summit of Olympus not just once, but a record-breaking 50 times. Without any hesitation, he set out to plan his next endeavour with the specific aim of making Eleftheria’s dream come true.
Marios’s 51st climb was with Eleftheria. On his back. In a specially modified backpack.
With help from a team of eight support crew, they reached Mt Mytikas, Olympus’s highest peak (2,918 m) after an overnight stop at a refuge. It took them over 10 hours to summit.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis congratulated the two through an online chat while they were still at a refuge on their way down.
“It was a fantastic idea, and we are very happy you implemented it,” Mitsotakis said, wishing them a safe return.
“There is nothing more real than the dream,” Marios posted on his Instagram feed.
The long-distance runner from Drama in Macedonia, Greece has completed many gruelling marathons in extreme conditions. His perseverance saw him through 150km under freezing conditions in Antarctica. He was the youngest to finish the 270km ‘Ultra Marathon’ in the scorching deserts of Dubai. Early this year, he ran a five-day marathon of 250km in the tropical jungle of Costa Rica.
“For me, all international races, the medals and the distinctions so far, mean little compared to this goal,” Marios said.
Despite a long list of achievements and medals, he considered this climb to be the most important and beautiful fight of his life.
“It was a more valuable experience than any medals I’ve ever received.”