Imagine trying to climb Mt. Everest…blind. Or, training as an elite athlete for a top international competition – from a wheelchair. In Nat Geo Mundo’s Gente Única, meet individuals who are overcoming the seemingly impossible to achieve these feats that most only dream of doing. The series shares these incredible stories as well as those of a biomedical engineer whose drive and ingenuity have helped him learn how to skateboard and play in a band despite being born without limbs, and a man diagnosed with an extremely rare disorder that renders his bones as fragile as glass. They are defying the odds and limits in ways that inspire.
The four-part series, premiering on March 3, 2013 at 9PM ET/PT, uncovers the daily lives of four fascinating individuals. The first is biomedical engineer, Rafa Reyes, who plays sports and music all while living with phocomelia, a rare congenital disorder that results in an absence or malformation of arms and legs. He truly is an inspiration and has made it his life’s work to help others with disabilities simplify theirs. For his friend Zuly Sanchez, who has the same disorder, he has developed a tool that can be used to button her jeans and put on her earrings, a task she cannot do alone.
The next episode introduces viewers to Saul Mendoza, a Mexican Native living in the U.S. who is a wheelchair-bound Olympic and Paralympic champion. He overcame a bout with polio as an infant, lost his ability to walk and most recently competed in the London Paralympic Games. Other accomplishments include winning the gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and achieving an Olympic record in the 1500 meter wheelchair race. His next endeavor is to train for the Twin Cities Marathon from Mexico and from his adopted hometown of Wimberley, Texas where he currently lives with his wife and son. In Mexico, he trains at the Otomi Ceremonial Center, running an average of 93 miles a week at an altitude of 1.99 miles which he believes gives him an edge on his competition. While in Texas, he trains on a variety of terrains for up to 30 hours a week as he runs an average of 124 miles.
Gente Única also introduces viewers to two other remarkable individuals, Juan Pablo Cofré and Reinaldo Torres. Juan Pablo is a 24 year-old man living with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic condition where bones are excessively fragile. Doctors had no hope he would live very long since his bones break easily and have multiple times including having fractures of the femur, tibia and clavicle. However, he has impressed all, survived and keeps on going, currently working on receiving his degree as a computer Engineer. Then there’s Reinaldo Torres, a Colombian man who lost his sight due to a grenade explosion while as a soldier combatting the Colombian FARC, a terrorist organization. He found his way back to living a remarkable life studying to become a lawyer, running the New York Marathon and climbing mountains. Watch as he reaches Ecuador’s second highest mountain, Cotopaxi Volcano which measure 19,347 feet and as he trains to climb Mt. Everest.