Local disability rights advocate climbs Ecuador’s Cotopaxi to provide prosthetic care for amputees
Community members can support mission during Winter Park Climb on Sept. 17
This month, Fraser resident Lauren “LP” Panasewicz will lead the summit of Cotopaxi, an epic volcanic mountain in Ecuador, along with a group of 16 amputee and non-amputee athletes. This is part of The Range of Motion Project’s eighth annual Climbing for ROMP campaign. Climbing for ROMP is the Range of Motion Project’s largest global campaign of the year, uniting hundreds of people around the world to raise funds for prosthetic care and increase awareness around the unequal distribution of assistive devices globally. Through this global campaign, the project is striving to raise $150,000, which will fund high quality prosthetic care and services to 100 Range of Motion Project patients.
ROMP is a Colorado-based nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring access to high-quality prosthetic care for underserved amputees, improving independence and mobility.
“Growing up in Colorado, I have been very active my entire life including soccer, skiing, running, hiking, and climbing. A major injury in my 20s left me unable to work for an extended period of time and led to limited mobility, chronic pain, and ultimately depression,” LP told Sky-Hi News. “It was this experience that made me realize how important our physical mobility is to the rest of our lives and that it’s something I had taken for granted my entire life. I value my own mobility and now through my work with ROMP, I fight for access to prosthetic care for others so that they can regain their mobility and independence.”
Panasewicz is doing more than leading the climb; she is also the director of development for the nonprofit. Panasewicz has helped raise over $500,000 through Climbing for ROMP over the last 7 years, and this will be her fifth summit on Cotopaxi for ROMP since she joined the organization in 2016.
Each year, Climbing for ROMP brings together amputee and non-amputee athletes from North and South America, including ROMP patients, to climb Cotopaxi. Located in the Andes Mountains, the stratovolcano is one of the highest in the world, and the second-highest peak in Ecuador at 19,347 feet. Through their climb, the team has an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 for ROMP, with a community fundraising goal of $50,000.
The 2022 team includes cancer survivor and para-triathlete Kyle Stepp, professional trail runner Zach Friedley, three-time Paralympic gold medalist Brenna Huckaby and many more. The mission is to show the world that with access to proper technology, no mountain is too high. Grand County businesses The Real Estate Company-Mountain Division, Middle Park Health Orthopedics and Hideaway Park Brewery have all contributed to help Panasewicz’s campaign.
“There is no greater gift than seeing someone walk again after losing a limb and witnessing the joy, confidence, and hope that they have when they know there is someone that cares about their healthcare, their prosthetic care, and their outcomes,” Panasewicz said. “It truly is life changing.”
Saturday, Sept. 17, Panasewicz is hosting a climb/bike for ROMP at Winter Park Resort. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and participants can stop by anytime. Cyclists are encouraged to bike as many laps as they can at the Trestle Bike Park. Hikers will be hiking up the Ute Trail alongside Panasewicz and taking the Gondola down as many times as they can to raise money and awareness for ROMP. The hike is approximately 2 miles with a 1,600 elevation gain and takes about 1-1.5 hours to complete. After the hike or bike, everyone is invited to Hideaway Park for a beer and fundraiser for the mission. For those who would like to join or donate to the Winter Park Climb, please visit Give.RompGlobal.org/winterparkchallenge.
For those who can’t make the Winter Park Challenge, they still have an opportunity to participate and support ROMP. Climbing for ROMP is a free and virtual campaign accessible to anyone, anywhere. The organization invites the global community to figuratively join them on any dates between Sept. 24 to Oct. 9, by getting outside wherever they live. By being outside and taking on a personal “mountain” or a physical challenge, participants can help ROMP patients take their first steps towards their own summits. ROMP uses the term “climb” as a metaphor that signifies the ongoing fight for mobility. Through these solidarity climbs, the ROMP community will raise an additional $50,000 for ROMP’s mission. Those interested in joining or donating to this virtual global movement can visit RompGlobal.org/climbing-for-romp.
“We are in a unique position to leverage our own mobility to help amputees receive the prosthetic treatment and technology that they need to redefine their potential,” said David Krupa, co-founder of ROMP.
Climbing for ROMP 2022 is supported by Hydro Flask, Mountain Hardwear, Osprey Packs, Royal Bank of Canada, Cumbre Tours, Click Medical, Utah Toyota Dealers, and The Kirstie Ennis Foundation. There are still partnership opportunities available for brands and funders to support ROMP’s values and vision. To date, ROMP has conducted over 12,500 patient visits, delivered more than 4,300 devices and raised more than $11 million in fundraising and value of in-kind donations since 2005. For more information about ROMP, its programs and how to get more involved, visit RompGlobal.org or reach out to Panasewicz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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