July 7, 2009

Paralyzed man to cross Iceland on ATV

A paralyzed Icelander with a love for the outdoors plans to cross his country's rugged interior on a specially designed all-terrain vehicle.

Jon Gunnar Benjaminsson, who normally travels in a wheelchair, has selected a route beginning at Lake Myvatn in the north Wednesday and ending in the capital, Reykjavik, Iceland Review reported. The region is one of Iceland's best-known natural areas.

Benjaminsson told the newspaper Frettabladid he has two intertwined goals for the five-day trip. One is to raise money to improve handicapped access at Landmannalaugar, a popular geothermal area in the highlands, and the other to see how accessible other highland tourist sites are for the disabled.

Iceland's rugged highland interior has no paved roads or permanent residents. It is crossed by tracks usable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles, although for a few weeks in the summer there is scheduled bus service.

Benjaminsson said he decided on the trip after the clothing company 66 Degrees North offered to sponsor him.

Then I figured that it would be a good idea to combine my interest in outdoor recreation with raising funds for a good cause, he said.