KSL Outdoors: The Secret of Sam Durst

Jul 16, 2021, 10:20 AM | Updated: 12:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — You first met Ryan Grassley and Sam Durst in a Heart of Utah feature produced by Mary Richards and Colby Walker right here on KSL NewsRadio (the video above). We followed up with an interview on KSL Outdoors Radio in which Ryan shared the two friend’s desire of getting into Utah’s backcountry, specifically our state’s national parks in an effort to show the capabilities of the Extreme Motus wheelchair.

Sam, as you may remember was born with cerebral palsy, and like many families blessed with a special needs child, his parents, Roger and Christine, found themselves making vacation plans based on the entire family being able to experience certain things while passing on other life experiences. 

Our show, in cooperation with Bob Grove and Mark Wade from “Road Trippin’ With Bob and Mark,” and with the generosity of Lance Syrett at Ruby’s Inn at Bryce Canyon, decided to help check their first national park off the family’s bucket list.

And as an added bonus, we got to tag along for the experience!

The story of Sam Durst goes viral

What started as an effort to showcase new technology and how it can change lives has become much more.  Sam and Ryan’s TikTok account now has 200,000 followers and pulls in millions of views each month. And Sam Durst has become an inspiration for all who follow them.

As we made our way down the switchbacks of the Wall Street trail and into the shade of the towering red canyon walls, other hikers stepped to the sides in amazement that these two men and this crazy group of “roadies” would attempt such a feat. 

I dropped back 30 yards or so as the team navigated tough turns or steep man-made stairs and watched the thumbs up or tearful comments as other trekkers passed by not knowing I was part of the entourage.

Sam’s screams of joy could be heard echoing from the red rock walls. They were a perfect amphitheater and greatly added to the emotions of those that passed.

Roadblock? Hardly!

When the team encountered a roadblock along the Navajo Loop (in the form of an opening in the rock that was not wide enough for the Motus to pass through) we considered taking Sam out of the chair, turning it on its side, and then remounting on the other side.  But it turned out that we didn’t need to. 

A group of perfect strangers on the OTHER side of the opening dropped their backpacks and cameras and found a way through a dry wash around the problem spot and lifted Sam and the chair gently back onto the trail.

It was proof that if we ALL work together in life there would be fewer obstacles for all of us! 


A honeymoon to remember

Later, as we approached the exit point of our 3.5-mile hike out using the Queen’s Garden trail, a young couple from Washington who had already completed a 9-mile hike approached us.

They asked if they could have the honor of helping get Sam and the Extreme Motus up the final 30 yards or so to Sam’s triumphant completion.  It turns out the two were on their honeymoon and thought this would be an incredible memory of their first few weeks together. 

The takeaway we learned from Sam Durst

The secret of Sam?  A smile and scream that brings joy to all who are lucky enough to meet him and, in the end, shines a bright light on the human spirit that can get lost and needs more attention these days.

Thanks Sam!


@extrememotusUm that’s a cliff… ##wheelchair ##utah ##cerebralpalsy ##ForeverMighty ##brycecanyonnationalpark ##outdoors♬ Good Old Days – Macklemore,Kesha



Photo: Tim Hughes Photo: Tim Hughes Photo: Tim Hughes Photo: Tim Hughes Photo: Tim Hughes Photo: Tim Hughes Photo: Tim Hughes Photo: Tim Hughes

Heart of Utah: Extreme Motus including people of all abilities on the adventure

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KSL Outdoors: The Secret of Sam Durst