Range of Motion Project climbers summit Cotopaxi
On the morning of Friday, Oct. 7, 20 athletes on a team climbing the 19,327-foot Ecuadoran volcano Cotopaxi stood atop the summit with their guides and four support climbers. Fraser resident Lauren “LP” Panasewicz led the expedition, as the leader of the Climbing for ROMP team.
The team came together to support the nonprofit Range of Motion Project’s largest fundraising and awareness campaign of the year, called Climbing for ROMP. This is the first time in Climbing for ROMP’s 8-year history that everyone on the team sumitted Cotopaxi.
Each year, Climbing for ROMP brings together amputee and non-amputee athletes from North and South America, including ROMP patients, to climb the peak. Located in the Andes Mountains, the stratovolcano is one of the highest in the world, and is the second-highest peak in Ecuador.
The climb has a mission much bigger than the volcano though.
“Our message is that all amputees deserve access to prosthetic care, community and the outdoors. We climb for change, we climb for mobility, we climb for ROMP,” Panasewicz said.
Panasewicz has helped raise more than $600,000 through Climbing for ROMP over the last seven years, and this marked her fifth summit on Cotopaxi for ROMP since she joined the organization in 2016. Panasewicz started as a ROMP volunteer during their very first climbing campaign in 2015.
“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 health care, their prosthetic care and their outcomes,” Panasewicz said. “It truly is life changing.”
Along with Panasewicz, the 2022 team had a total of 10 athletes with an amputation including cancer survivor and para-triathlete Kyle Stepp, professional trail runner Zach Friedley, three-time Paralympic gold medalist and cancer survivor Brenna Huckaby, ROMP patient Jahir Ramos and many more. Through the campaign, the team and ROMP’s community has raised $110,000 so far with a goal of $150,000; funds will go to high-quality prosthetic care and services for 100 ROMP patients.
World record holder, speed climber, elite athlete and mountain guide Karl Egloff has been the lead guide for the ROMP team since the inaugural Climb for ROMP in 2015. His guiding company, Cumbre Tours, has become part of the ROMP family and looks forward to this group every year.
“Leading the Climbing for ROMP group every year fills my soul,” said Egloff. “The team represents the power of access to mobility, unique teamwork (and) incredible willpower, but above all, that disability does not define us. Everyone with limb loss deserves to reach their summit and that is exactly what ROMP stands for. I am very proud of each participant and extremely happy to have 100% of the group and my great team of guides on the summit together. It will be a moment I will never forget.”
Climbing for ROMP is the Range of Motion Project’s biggest annual mobility campaign. Thousands of people around the world take on their own personal “mountain” or a physical challenge in solidarity with the Climb Team to help ROMP patients take their first steps towards their own summits. The campaign uses “climb” as a metaphor that signifies the world’s ongoing fight for access to mobility.
“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 and Executive Director of ROMP.
Range of Motion Project is a Colorado-based nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring access to high-quality prosthetic care for underserved amputees in the U.S. and Latin America, improving independence and mobility. To date, it 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, or how to get more involved, please visit ROMPGlobal.org.
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