Initially, doctors told her she would never walk again. Yet with support from family, friends and rehabilitation specialist Keith O'Malley-Farrell – plus huge amounts of grit, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness – Leon began the slow journey back to full mobility. “There were days that I’d think I could walk, but I really couldn't,” she admits. “I’d go out on crutches, but the pain was too much. I’d get back home, sit on my bed and cry.” But she refused to give up.
In all, it took Leon four years to learn to walk properly again. Emboldened by what she had achieved, she set off with a friend to climb Mount Kosciuszko, mainland Australia’s highest mountain. “Unfortunately, about two hours from the bottom, I literally couldn’t walk anymore,” she remembers. “A park ranger had to drive me the rest of the way.” Still, it planted the seed for a daring Guinness World Record attempt: in 2019, Leon came tantalizingly close to becoming the first person to surmounting 15 peaks across the Middle East in 30 days (ultimately, because of security issues, she was only allowed to scale 10 peaks in 28 days).
Now she is about to take part in her biggest challenge yet: climbing seven volcanic summits across seven continents in six months (Mount Elbrus in Russia, Mount Damavand in Iran, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Giluwe in Papua New Guinea, Picod de Orizaba in Mexico, Ojos De Salado in Chile and Mount Sidley in Antarctica). Plus, with O’Malley-Farrell, she has started a business called A Life of Education, the world’s first online fitness education platform.
Life is looking up, in more ways than one.