Lafayette native Steve Wampler has been nominated for the San Francisco-based Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey's "Rare Life Award."
Wampler, who has cerebral palsy and lives his life in a wheelchair, is a father of two, husband, former environmental engineer and founder of the Stephen J. Wampler Foundation, a national nonprofit that provides scholarships to physically disabled children to attend wilderness camps runs a wilderness
With a $30,000 prize going to the winner's choice of a charitable, nonprofit organization -- and public recognition for special lives often lived in the shadow of attention-grabbing celebrities and their causes -- the award process is, in itself, rare.
Nominees are judged for eligibility by an Eagle Rare committee before their stories are placed online for public viewing and voting. In January 2013, this year's submissions will be tallied and scored to determine the grand prize and six, $3,000 semifinalists awards. Winners will be announced on Feb. 25.
Wampler also is a film star, the center of "WALL: The Journey Up," a 2011 documentary about his grueling vertical climb up the face of Yosemite's El Capitan. That story had celebrities (Diane Sawyer, Ellen DeGeneres and others) and national media (Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and more) beating an admiring path to Wampler's home in Southern California.
In the film, pulling himself up with one arm, dangling thousands of feet above solid rock, hauling 20,000 times over six days to gain the top, Wampler met the "Rare Life Award" criteria for courage, leadership, survival, devotion, character and heroism.
The nomination rises not only from his climb, but from his determination to change the self-perception of physically disabled kids and o blow the cap off the expectations adults hold for them.
Earlier this year, "WALL: The Journey Up" won the Audience Favorite Documentary Award at the Sonoma International Film Festival.
In a brief email interview, Wampler said he is "honored to be nominated" and credits his "spectacular outlook on life" to his wife Elizabeth and their two children, Charlotte and Joseph.
To vote for Wampler, go to http://ow.ly/eRJBe