Meet the first traveler in a wheelchair to visit all seven continents

Meet the first traveler in a wheelchair to visit all seven continents

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Meet the first traveler in a wheelchair to visit all seven continents

September 14, 2020 4:41 AM

Cory LeeBy GENEVIEVE SHAW BROWN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- It's a goal of every true traveler: to visit all seven continents.

For Cory Lee, it was "a life-long goal."

Lee was diagnosed at a young age with spinal muscular atrophy and has used a wheelchair since the age of 4. Raised by a single mother who worked as a teacher, Lee first came to love travel from the road trips he and his mom would take in the U.S. during summer breaks.

It was just before the pandemic that Lee -- fittingly, with his mother by his side -- visited his final continent: Antarctica.

"We were on the last cruise to Antarctica (before borders closed)," Lee told ABC News' Good Morning America. "It was surreal. There were icebergs, mountains of ice, penguins. It was everything you would imagine and more. I was moved to tears."

Lee said the trick to traveling in a wheelchair is extensive planning and research. The Antarctica trip, for example, had been booked two years in advance.

"Researching accessible tour companies, accessible transportation and destinations, it's a lot of work," Lee said.

Because information on accessible travel was hard to come by when Lee started out, he's started a blog to share his knowledge with the world: Curb Free with Cory Lee.

Of the 37 countries he's visited, Antarctica and Morocco are at the top.

"I didn't have high expectations of Morocco," Lee said. "But the alleyways of Marrakesh, the snake charmers, it blew me away."

Another highlight: a camel ride in the Sahara Desert with a company that offered an adaptive camel seat.

"If you research you can find so many companies doing amazing things," he said.

Traveling the world in a wheelchair, Lee said, "is completely possible."

He hopes to inspire young travelers with his new children's book, Let's Explore With Cor Cor, about a boy who travels the world in his power wheelchair. From traveling to Finland to meet Santa to exploring Australia and its kangaroos, Lee said kids can learn not only about destinations but about others who don't necessarily look like them.

The book's release date -- July 26 -- was a meaningful one; it was the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed shortly after Lee was born.

"Traveling to all seven continents wasn't something I was sure was going to be possible," he said. "But if you stay determined and keep a positive attitude, the opportunities are limitless."

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