“The North Pole Expedition: A Journey for Humanity”Jul 13, 2017
“I want to tell the world through this expedition, that the power of the mind and brain could make everything happen. Not only from a philosophical vision but from a scientifically proven vision as well” Said Michael Haddad.
Under the patronage of His Excellency Prime Minister Saad Hariri, with the support of H.E. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Ghassan Hasbani, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Lebanon Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, the President of the Lebanese American University (LAU) Mr. Joseph Jabbra, and the Lebanese Ministries of Information and Tourism, another event which will pave the way for a brighter Lebanon was witnessed. Haddad, a Lebanese citizen from the Beqaa, paralyzed from the chest down, launched his next journey under the slogan “The North Pole Expedition: A Journey for Humanity”, at the Grand Serail, Beirut, on July 11, 2017. The event was partnered by Touch, and Michael Haddad’s North Pole Expedition will be monitored by Deloitte. Important figures along with Haddad attended this event, such as international and local media, government officials, the European delegation in Lebanon, dignitaries from general diplomatic missions, climate change advocates, and non-governmental organizations.
Michael Haddad’s new expedition sets sight on walking a 100 km to the North Pole to raise awareness on climate change, medical research, exoskeleton engineering, and humanity. All his previous accomplishments also promoted these important topics. Michael Haddad is one of more than 400,000 disabled individuals that are trying to live with daily challenges. Yet, this expedition, which is threatening to his health, aims to highlight the presence of the disability within the society that we must overcome rather than the physical disability. Dr. Joseph Jabbra launched the event with a speech indicating LAU’s main responsibility as a parcel of the society in creating a world in the 21st century that belongs to innovators. Jabbra said, “I am impressed by a person that overthrew all the odds, a man who is an inspiration for all of us.” Dr. Jabbra additionally acknowledged LAU’s School of Medicine and Engineering’s contribution and effort in designing the exoskeleton in a medical approach that helped facilitate the ability for Haddad to walk and scale peaks. Jabbra mentioned the doctors’ fascination with Michael’s brain and its ability to push past his physical disabilities, which have been witnessed in Michael’s last three accomplishments; he was able to achieve three world records from walking 19 km in Mount Lebanon, to climbing Beirut’s famous landmark “Raoucheh”, and reaching the Middle East’s highest summit. Moreover, Mr. Philippe Lazzarini also illustrated Haddad’s expedition as an inspirational asset for the United Nations Development Programme. Lazzarini added “that there is no bigger challenge than climate change”, claiming that with Haddad, the private sector and the government, we have the opportunity to bypass these challenges on an international scale and raise awareness for this arctic melt along with United Nations Development Programme’s support. Furthermore, Mr. Lazzarini explained the symbolic meaning behind the North Pole’s expedition, since it will prove the repercussions this world will suffer from if we ignore the climate change threat, while on the other hand providing the assurance that any barrier could be overcome with determination and collective action if this issue is taken into consideration.
Michael Haddad also contributed with an emotional speech, thanking all organizations, teams, and individuals who played a role in creating history. He acknowledged and thanked LAU’s support and collective work by the scientific teams including therapists, neurologists, and medical teams under the University’s umbrella, the government for his identity, and the United Nations Development Programme for partnership. “It took us two years to take the decision and tell the Lebanese people, I decided to walk 100 km to the North Pole.” Haddad also gave a special thanks to LAU’s specialist doctors, Dr. Rechdi Ahdab and Dr. Barbar Akle, for placing their reputation on the line by being willing to place a paralyzed person on such a risky expedition to prove scientific innovations that go beyond possibility. Michael Haddad assured that with all this support, he is able to carry his message to the rest of the world as a proud Lebanese citizen. Haddad concluded his speech by affirming, “If we believe, we could change”.
H.E. Mr. Ghassan Hasbani addressed attendees about Michael’s message by aiming to challenge his physical disability and commented that being paralyzed is not the end of the world. Yet, losing hope and eliminating yourself from society is much crueler. Hasbani noted that Michael is playing a crucial role in enhancing the importance of humanity and raising awareness on climate change through this hopeful expedition. Finally, H.E. Saad Hariri gave his support by relating to Michael’s expedition as a symbolic event that also aims to help the Parliament in addressing the challenges that are afflicting society. Hariri ended his speech by giving his full support to Haddad’s new mission, claiming that Michael Haddad’s accomplishments and determination are making the Lebanese Republic proud.