Cory Lee, 31, of LaFayette, Georgia, has a bucket list that includes visiting every national park in the United States and touring every Disney park in the world.
It sounds like a reach until you hear some of the travel goals he has already accomplished: Like being the first person in a motorized wheelchair to visit all seven continents. (He checked off Antarctica in February 2020 just before COVID-19 shut down most international travel.)
Lee has also been on an African safari, visited the Taj Mahal, ridden a camel in Morocco, seen a show in the Sydney (Australia) Opera House and ridden in a hot air balloon.
A graduate of the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, he has become a leading online influencer in the realm of wheelchair-accessible travel.
Earlier this month he won two prestigious national Webby Awards for his travel blog "Curb Free with Cory Lee." It was picked as the best personal blog/website by the Webby contest judges and it also took the "People's Choice Award" in the same category.
"I am absolutely shocked and honored to win these two awards," Lee said. "The Webby Awards are considered the 'Oscars of the internet.'" Indeed, the New York Times calls the Webby Awards, which are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the "internet's highest honor."
Lee, who uses a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy that developed when he was a toddler, started his blog in 2013. It contains more than 500 articles and posts about his worldwide journeys and generates about 50,000 visitors a month. He also has about 65,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
A few months before he graduated from college, Lee said he was researching a trip to Australia when he realized how little information was available for wheelchair users. He decided to start a blog about his travels, never imagining that less than a decade later he would be one of the world's top influencers on the topic of accessible travels. (Ironically, Lee says Sydney, Australia, is one of the world's most wheelchair-friendly cities.)
Before the pandemic, Lee said he was on the road about four months a year reporting for his travel blog. He is an active member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Society of American Travel Writers.
Once a year he leads a group of wheelchair users on an international trip. So far his groups have gone to Morocco, Iceland and Costa Rica. Next spring, there is a trip planned to Patagonia and Chile.
"I'd love to do a few trips per year to different destinations," said Lee, who travels with a companion. "I'd eventually like to do some tours in the U.S."
Lee said that while he funds some of his trips out of his pocket, about 90 percent of his journeys are press trips sponsored by travel companies or destinations. His Antarctica trip, for example, was part of a month-long cruise sponsored by the Alianz Travel Insurance.
During the pandemic, Lee said he was sidelined from most international travel but did manage some domestic road trips, including an RV trip geared toward wheelchair users that was sponsored by Winnebago.
Lee said all travelers can learn from his blog but that his primary focus is to serve people who use wheelchairs.
"Being able to make their travels a little easier is why I do what I do," he said.
Life Stories publishes on Mondays. To suggest a human interest story contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.