The Labors of Attila
By Rege Behe
Attila Domos is no stranger to adversity. Nor is he afraid of setting lofty goals.
But a quest Domos plans to undertake is comparable to the mythical Labors of Hercules. Domos hopes to swim the Atlantic Ocean, pedal across Europe and Asia, kayak across the Pacific Ocean, then pedal across the US to the East Coast. It’s a daunting schedule for the fittest of athletes, but Domos will be doubly challenged: He’s paralyzed from the waist down.
“I always wanted to do something epic and do a whole lot of good for a lot of people,” Domos says, who intends to raise $100 million dollars for charity on his odyssey.
That’s not a misprint: $100 million is his goal and Domos is sure he can raise that amount in the 4-5 years it will take to circumnavigate globe. If that seems impossible, it’s nothing compared to what Domos has already accomplished in his 47 years.
In 1993, just after his band Big Bad Wolf had signed a recording contract, Domos was paralyzed from the waist down in a falling accident. He reinvented himself as para-athlete and won the 2010 Pittsburgh Marathon in the hand-cycling division. But then Domos was afflicted with a skin breakdown issue related to osteomyelitis and spent much of the next three years in bed.
Even though Domos was bed-ridden, his mind churned.
“I was laying in bed playing Wii and turned it to play golf,” he says. “I noticed the globe (on the screen) was spinning. I thought about if anyone had ever swam the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.”
That dream was changed to kayaking across the Pacific after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. But Domos isn’t compromising anything else. He envisions assembling a team of a dozen or so, including a captain and a first mate to man a support boat on the oceans, a couple of assistants and a nurse. When he reaches Asia he wants to cross the Hindu Kush, the Central Asian mountain range that one of his idols, Alexander the Great, traversed. He also knows he has to cross either Syria or Iraq — neither is a good choice, he admits — but Domos is undeterred by any possible obstacles.
For now, his biggest barrier is finances. Domos estimates he will need $10 million to complete his journey, and wants to avoid corporate sponsorships because “I don’t want to grovel.” Instead, he plans to seeks funding from the film industry, specifically A-list actors.
“This is more of a Hollywood business model,” Domos says. “Those people understand how to think about something like this. What I need to do is get representation and meet people who can connect the dots.”
Those dots are merely pinpricks on a map right now, places Domos wants to pass through on his journey. As a competitive racer, he trains for speed. But this is an entirely different sort of race.
“This isn’t about how fast I can go,” Domos says. “It’s how about how much money we can raise for charities.”