By JARED PRATT
A “man-made” chair lift to Y Mountain made one BYU student’s 21st birthday a day he’ll never forget.
Vance Taylor has muscular dystrophy which forces him to use a wheel chair, but it hasn’t kept him from reaching the Y.
Since coming to BYU Taylor has wanted to hike to the Y on the mountain. He saw his friends do it and made it one of his goals while attending BYU, he said.
Taylor, 21, a junior from Petalum, Calif., majoring in broadcast journalism said he never wanted to ask anyone to take him up the mountain and mentioned it only in passing to a friend.
With Taylor’s birthday around the corner, some friends planned a unique surprise party.
“They could have bought me something expensive, but it wouldn’t have compared to what they did,” Taylor said.
“It’s something he’s never been able to do and everyone deserves to go up there,” said Jon Peterson, 18, a freshman from Chicago with an open major.
Taylor said he was touched when he heard his birthday present was a trip to Y Mountain.
“It’s so amazing that so many would give up their Saturday, and their bodies, just to help me fulfill one of my dreams,” Taylor said.
“They put me in my manual wheelchair because it’s lighter, but my seat belt is broken on the chair. So they strapped me in with a bunch of neck ties,” Taylor said.
With three people on each side and two in the back they started up the mountain stopping at switchbacks to catch their breath and rotate carriers, Taylor said.
“The stops got more frequent as we got higher and higher up the mountain,” Taylor said.
Michael Martino, 18, a freshman from Denton, Texas, majoring in architecture, got a call from Taylor’s cell phone as the crew was half way up the mountain.
“They were thirsty and hungry, so we hiked up some food and water to them,” Martino said.
They not only went to the Y, but went the extra mile and hiked to the very top, Taylor said.
“The whole hike wasn’t too bad, but at the top of the Y it was really steep. But we said we’ve come this far, let’s work together and make it to the top,” Peterson said.
“Everybody that helped carry him to the top of the mountain shared a special bond,” said John Prete, 18, a sophomore from Kingston, Ontario, Canada, majoring in accounting.
The first thing Taylor wanted to do after hiking to the Y was call home.
“I called my mom and dad from the Y. My friends were singing “Happy Birthday” in the back. My mom and dad were both teary eyed and very touched at the act of service and love,” Taylor said.
“It’s the best birthday present I could give him,” Peterson said.
“It was like we won a gold medal,” Taylor said.