A touching photo showing a family’s determination to include their disabled son in all their activities, including hiking to see a famed natural landmark, has gone viral.
The photo shows James Geier, a retired law enforcement official who now works for the city of Logan, Utah, carrying his youngest son, Jonah, in a roller backpack as the family hiked to the famous Delicate Arch in their home state.
Jonah, 20, was born with cerebral palsy, according to his mother, and Geier’s wife, Carla Zambreno, was also on the hike when the photo was taken.
“We were able to take Jonah with us on hikes in a child’s backpack until he was about 17 because he grew so slowly,” Zambreno told ABC News. “When Jonah outgrew that, a park ranger’s wife found a website of a man who designs rollerpacks for hunters and fishermen to carry their gear.”
“He customized one for Jonah,” Zambreno said of Bob Dixon, the owner of the Dixon Rollerpack Co.. “It has a sling system for Jonah’s body and a foot plate in the front and a seat belt-type contraption for the waist.”
The five-mile roundtrip hike to the Delicate Arch was the first time the family had tried out Jonah’s new rollerpack, Zambreno said.
The photo of Geier’s hiking with his son was actually taken in August 2012 but went viral this month when it was reposted on Father's Day by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“Celebrating Dads like James is what Father's Day is all about,” the department wrote in the photo’s caption on its Instagram page.
Zambreno explained that her daughter, Laura, 32, submitted the photo in the National Park Foundation’s “Share the Experience” photo contest back in 2012. The photo was awarded an Honorable Mention that year but also won “Fan Favorite” and has been showing up on national park websites ever since, according to Zambreno.
“The last two years, we’ve seen it all over the Internet,” she said.
The family, which also includes an older son, Noah, 36, has always had a love for the outdoors and made it a point to hike and camp as often as possible, Zambreno said. When Jonah was born with both cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder, the family kept right on hiking and instilled their love of the outdoors in Jonah, too.
“I couldn’t even count the number of hikes he’s been on,” Zambreno told ABC News. “As soon as the season begins, we go and in the winter we take him cross-country skiing with us in a ski sled.”
“He loves being outside,” she said. “He’ll point to things and laugh. He’s a good-natured kid.”