FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – Three years ago, on the Friday before Bridge Day, Sib Weatherford became the first person in a wheelchair to go down the high line underneath the New River Gorge Bridge.
Earlier this year, Weatherford passed away, but he leaves a lasting legacy especially with those who loved him most.
“Always willing to try, always willing to adapt,” Lauren Weatherford, Sib’s wife, said. “Never gave up. His favorite quote which I didn’t love, but he said it all the time was that he was too dumb to quit. He just didn’t believe in stopping.”
Sib had always had a knack for adventure. In fact, that is what brought he and Lauren together as they were both river guides spending a good portion of their 23 years together in a constant state of adventure.
About 9 years ago, Sib was diagnosed with CIPD (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy), and the effects of that left him confined to a wheelchair.
However, he never let those challenge get him down. In fact, he let them take him to new heights.
It all started in 2018, on the Friday before Bridge Day, as longtime friend Benjy Simpson and volunteers at Bridge Walk figured out a way to strap him in within his wheelchair to let him be the first to make the high descent.
“I’m very grateful for the people who work with us to do the high line spent the time to get him on it and go down the high line, because it was definitely a high for him,” Simpson said.
Because of his high line ride and his contagious spirit, he became a local icon and started an annual tradition, even participating in the 5K to open up the bridge on Bridge Day.
“He loved this town and the people in it, and the things they did for him and the way they supported him and cheered him on,” Lauren said. “I can’t imagine an environment that was more supportive of somebody just because he tried and because he loved.”
In all that he did, it was not just about about him proving his own abilities to himself, it was a lesson for anyone who ever got to witness, and although Sib is no longer with us, he has left a legacy of inspiration and perseverance.