Pushing the Limits: Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Adam Keys’ Journey to the Top of the Mountain
In 2018, Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Adam Keys stood atop Mt. Kilimanjaro.
He’d always lived a life of pushing the limits, but now? Adam had just climbed 19,341 feet to the highest mountain peak in Africa, and as he looked over the view of just how far he’d come, Adam thought about what had brought him to this point.
Things like his time in the Army. Things like his deployment to Afghanistan. Things like the soldiers he’d served with, and friends he’d lost but would never forget. Things like making sacrifices to preserve freedom. Things like fighting for his life.
Things like pushing every limit to overcome hardship.
Originally from Nova Scotia, Adam moved to Pennsylvania when he was thirteen. Many of his family members had served in the Canadian military, so a life dedicated to country ran in his blood. The 9/11 attacks only solidified what Adam had always felt in his heart, and in 2008, he enlisted in the Army with an interest in paratrooping and eventually went to airborne school in Ft. Benning to become an airborne engineer.
In 2010, Adam deployed to Afghanistan, where his unit was responsible for clearing supply routes of weapons and explosives in a rural area East of Kandahar (Zabul province). Seven months later, Adam’s team of five, traveling in a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle, struck an IED. The blast took the lives of four soldiers — Sgt. Chase Stanley, Sgt. Zachary Fisher, Spc. Matthew Johnson, and Spc. Jesse Reed — and left Adam critically injured.
He was in a coma for two months before waking up at Walter Reed Military Medical Center. Adam underwent over 100 surgeries, but due to an infection in his bloodstream, he ultimately lost both of his legs and his left arm.
It was at Walter Reed that Adam met Janine, who would soon become his case manager at The Fund. Adam said, “My parents and I didn’t know what was going to happen, but Janine helped us navigate the hospital system — it was like a breath of fresh air. To say that The Fund and Janine have been there for me every step of the way would be an understatement. They have just been incredible.”
Post-recovery, Adam had not only defied all the odds, but he was now competing in handcycle marathons before setting his sights even higher. 19,341 feet higher, to be exact – the very top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
“I wanted to do certain things to prove to myself that I was alive,” said Adam. “And The Fund has always been there to support these goals of mine.”
As Adam planned his ascent, Janine and The Fund supported him by providing the clothing and gear for his five-day journey to the summit, as well as a specialized chair for him to use at certain sections of the mountain. And in 2018, Adam climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, proving to both himself and many others watching that no obstacle is too steep to overcome.
Adam, in finding hope throughout hardship, used his mountaineering experience to raise money for other combat wounded veterans under The Fund’s care, and he’s not done inspiring others yet. Adam now performs as a comic, and he even went on his first comedy tour in Alaska with "Armed Forces Entertainment", an agency of the Department of Defense that provides free entertainment for service members and their families all over the world.
“Comedy has been therapeutic for me. You’ve got to laugh about things,” Adam said. “The Fund has helped me the best way a comic could hope -- they come to my shows!”
Honored to be a part of Adam’s journey, the Fund Family will continue to be proud audience members, laughing along with the countless individuals whose lives have been touched by Adam’s incredible strength and endless positivity.
Follow along with Adam’s comedy career or find a show near you on Adam’s Twitter @comedy_keys or his Facebook Page: Adam Keys - "One Step Forward”.