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QUITO, ECUADOR — OCTOBER 2021 — A team of adaptive athletes, ROMP patients, and disability rights advocates successfully reached the summit of Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano at 19,347 feet this week, with the collective goal to help people with amputation receive prosthetic care and raise awareness for disability rights.
The mission was to, quite literally, climb vertical feet for prosthetic feet. Climbing for ROMP is the brainchild of an international healthcare nonprofit, Range of Motion Project (ROMP), to raise money to help people with amputation in need of care and increase awareness around the unequal distribution of assistive devices globally. The signature climb of this global awareness event is the Elite Climb Team’s attempt on Cotopaxi every year.
The team shows that when humans have access to proper technology, no mountain is too high. Adaptive athletes on the 2021 team include Rio Paralympian Lacey Henderson, skier and disability rights advocate Vasu Sojitra, and veteran Colton Carlson. Additionally, some of ROMP’s very own patients including Sarita Lucio Parades will join the climbs, proving firsthand ROMP’s mission of high-quality care and improving patients mobility and empowering their potential. The climbing team was divided into two smaller teams due to COVID travel restrictions, with Team #1 successfully reaching the summit on September 30, and Team #2 just as successful on October 7.
ROMP’s co-founders, David Krupa and Eric Neufeld, are also part of the team, as well as Director of Development Lauren Panasewicz. Other adaptive team members include Dee Palagi, Allie Redshaw, Pete Mcafee, Kim Huguelet, and Lucas Onan. Other athletes include Laura Faubion, Lauren Hagedorn, Signo Uddenberg, Jim Storms, Ian Redshaw, Yosh Eisbart, Daniel Lee, and Rocky Shorey. Additionally, the US Ambassador to Ecuador, Mike Fitzpatrick, is joining the team as well.
“Taking part in this team and supporting ROMP’s mission exemplifies what community truly means; we support each other to get to our own version of a summit whether those are physical or metaphorical barriers in our day-to-day,” says team member, Vasu Sojitra. “We continue to lift as we climb!”
Over the past seven years of Climbing for ROMP, ROMP staff, volunteers and supporters have climbed more than 250 mountains worldwide to benefit ROMP patients and to commemorate the anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Since 2015, the initiative has raised over $500,000 to continue ROMP’s mission of providing high quality prosthetic care to those who cannot access it. This year, the team has raised over $100,000 for ROMP patients in need.
“We are in a unique position to leverage our own mobility to help amputees receive prosthetic treatment and technology that they need to redefine their potential,” said founder and executive director Dave Krupa. “This is our mission.”
Climbing for ROMP 2021 Elite Climb Team is supported by Kaspersky, Hydroflask, Merrell, Eddie Bauer, Osprey Packs, Royal Bank of Canada, Halliard Partners LLC, Tatoo Adventure Gear, ROAM Media, and The Kirstie Ennis Foundation.
ROMP is dedicated to providing prosthetic care to amputees who do not have access. In developing countries, amputation is much more prevalent due to lack of good, consistent health care and access to rehabilitative services and technology is minimal. So much so that the WHO estimates that 90 percent of those in need of assistive devices worldwide do not have access including prosthetic care. ROMP is changing this statistic. To date, ROMP has conducted over 11,500 patient visits, delivered more than 4,000 devices and raised more than $11 million in fundraising and value of in-kind donations since 2005. For more info, visit www.rompglobal.org.