From the archives: This interview was originally published on October 28, 2017
In this week’s edition of “5 Questions With…” we interviewed Spencer West. Spencer is a graduate of Rock Springs High School who currently lives in Toronto, Canada and works as a motivational speaker. Spencer lost both of his legs at the age of five due to a genetic disorder. He was told by doctors that he would never be able to sit up, let alone walk. Spencer and his family didn’t take that advice, and instead, decided to seek out every opportunity. Not only does he travel the world working closely with the WE organization, but he’s even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. How could we not want to interview him?!
You’re heavily involved with the WE organization. For those who are unfamiliar, can you explain more about the organization and its goals?
At its core WE makes doing good doable. We provide products, resources and experiences to empower people change the world both locally and globally. My role at the organization as a motivational speaker and leadership facilitator is to use my story to empower people to get involved with something they care about and WE provides all the necessary tools and resources to actually make it happen.
What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
I’d say to date my proudest accomplishment is finding a job that not only pays well, but makes the world a better place at the same time. I spent a lot of time chasing the American dream of money and material possessions while doing work I wasn’t passionate about. In 2007 a dear friend invited me to go on a volunteer trip to Kenya with WE which changed my entire life. I learned about the organization, what they do and how I could get involved. I went to Kenya in March of 2008 and by August I had quit my job in Arizona and moved to Toronto to work for WE as a motivational speaker. Through the organization I’ve had the opportunity to write a book called Standing Tall: My Journey. In 2012 I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and raised over $500,000 for clean water and even had the opportunity to go on tour with Demi Lovato as one of her openers sharing my story. Recently I launched a YouTube Channel, Spencer2TheWest, so people can get a glimpse in to my daily life, how I navigate the world and the work I do. None of this would have happened had I not listened to my gut and looked for a job that I was passionate about.
What experiences did you have growing up in Rock Springs, WY that helped to shape what you do today?
I think being a cheerleader my last year of high school and collectively bringing home a state championship title really helped me understand the value I can add to a team, and how collectively a group of dedicated people can add value to a community. I’m also really grateful for Dave Hanks at the Chamber of Commerce. I worked there all through high school and learned so much from him about customer service, how to treat people and I was enamored with how he conducted himself with members of the community, in political positions and local businesses. I think those skills are invaluable and I am forever grateful.
Looking through your social media accounts you hang out with some pretty cool people. Care to name drop?
Demi Lovato, Macklemore, Martin Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Luther King III, His Royal Highness Prince Harry and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau…to name a few. J
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My incredible friend Dean gave me the best advice that I apply to everything. Speak your truth, know your worth and remember why you are here.
I do my very best to remain humble and non political on social media as much as possible…however this is a moment I had to share. I've had the distinct honour of getting to know Prime Minister Trudeau and his lovely wife Sophie over the past 4 years as they've both been to #WeDay multiple times. But yesterday was of huge significance as We Day Ottawa was their first public appearance since Mr. Trudeau has taken office. I politely watched in the background as the Prime Minister and his wife walked backstage and just before they turned the corner the Prime Minister caught me out of the corner of his eye, stopped pushed his secret service out of the way and ran over to offer a hug and a quick hello, followed by his wife doing the same. Regardless of what your political views are Mr. Trudeau and his wife Sophie were, and remain two of the most generous, sincere, humble and caring people I've ever met. Congratulations Prime Minister and thank you so much for making this small town boy from Wyoming, who is now a permanent resident of Canada feel 10 feet tall. Thanks @waneek for capturing the moment
5 years ago today @coachpauldeangelis and @mc.adventures team led @akirameers @davidjohnson_28 and myself to the top of the tallest mountain in Africa Mt. Kilimanjaro. I've said it before and I'll say it again…8 days I wouldn't trade for anything…and 8 days I'll never do again…maybe. #ContinueToRedefinePossible