Home > Climbing

Cotopaxi Climbers Raise Money to Provide Prosthetic Care to 100 Ecuadorians

range of motion projectThe Climbing for ROMP team at Cotopaxi in 2021; (photo/ROMP)
Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

Now in its eighth year, the Range of Motion Project’s annual fundraiser provides prosthetics to those in need.

A Colorado nonprofit will send a team of climbers to Ecuador this September to raise money for those in need of prosthetic limbs.

Nearly 20 volunteers, including amputee and non-amputee athletes, will climb Cotopaxi, the country’s second-tallest mountain, to support the Range Of Motion Project (ROMP).

The nonprofit has set a goal of $150,000 this year to directly provide prosthetics for 100 Ecuadorians who can’t afford them. As of August 29, ROMP had raised nearly $40,000, according to its website.

Climbing Cotopaxi is the organization’s biggest annual fundraiser. However, ROMP offers more ways to get involved than just donating money.

Anyone can help the campaign by setting an outdoor goal and creating a fundraising page on the ROMP website.

“Climbing for ROMP is a metaphor for whatever your mountain is,” said Lauren Panasewicz, the group’s development director. “For someone recovering from a serious injury, walking to the mailbox could be their Everest.”

romp cotopaxi
At right is Dave Krupa (ROMP co-founder and executive director) assisting Holger Velez (ROMP patient and 2018 Climb Team member); (photo/ROMP)

Joining the Movement

ROMP hopes that its primary Cotopaxi team will raise $100,000. Hopefully, the remaining $50,000 will come from the other fundraisers started by groups and individuals through the ROMP website.

The free, virtual campaign asks the global community to fundraise from September 24 to October 9. Just set an outdoor goal and start a fundraising page. Current examples include Colorado Climbers, Wisconsin Hoofers 2022, and individuals like Heidi Strickler.

Panasewicz said anyone is invited to create a goal for themselves, whether climbing a mountain or hiking a local trail.

“It’s a peer-to-peer campaign,” she said. “It gives it that personal feel. Having that personal connection is super important.”

ROMP cotopaxi
ROMP’s team of both amputee and non-amputee climbers on Cotopaxi in 2021; (photo/ROMP)

Climbing for ROMP

While ROMP has always aimed to do annual fundraisers by climbing Cotopaxi, the 19,347-foot volcano hasn’t always been agreeable.

In the first year of climbing for ROMP in 2015, Cotopaxi erupted a few weeks before the planned summit. So the ROMP team switched to Cayambe, another of Ecuador’s many high-altitude volcanoes.

The mountain didn’t reopen to climbers until 2018, and ROMP has been returning every year since. Although the pandemic caused additional difficulties last year, ROMP raised $117,000.

This year, the 2022 team includes cancer survivor and para-triathlete Kyle Stepp, professional trail runner Zach Friedley, three-time Paralympic gold medalist Brenna Huckaby, and others.

The mission is to show the world that with access to proper technology, no mountain is out of reach, ROMP said in a news release.

“As an athlete, as someone who values mobility and time in the outdoors, we can take for granted the mobility that we have until we lose it,” Panasewicz said.

romp patient
ROMP patient Yahir Ramos with ROMP Ecuador’s prosthetist Camila Diaz. Ramos, 17, will be climbing Cotopaxi this year as the youngest climber ever to join the team. He dreams of going to the Paralympics someday; (photo/ROMP)

A Massive Need for Prosthetics

ROMP started in 2005 because of the global need for prosthetic care access. The nonprofit offers physical clinics in Guatemala and Ecuador and helps U.S. patients find the help they need.

ROMP has conducted over 12,500 patient visits, delivered more than 4,200 devices, and raised more than $11 million since 2005.

The average cost of prosthetic care to a single patient is $1,500. By raising $150,000, ROMP hopes to deliver prosthetics to 100 Ecuadorians.

“The disability demographic is the only minority that anyone can end up joining at any time,” Panasewicz said. “Our bodies are fragile, but the spirit endures.”

To learn more, visit ROMP’s website.

Watch Paraclimber Rachel Maia Get 'Back to Real Rock'

An accident of ‘Kiwi intuition’ led to climber Rachel Maia losing her left leg below the knee. Watch her battle 'Back to Real Rock' in this video. Read more…

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive GearJunkie content direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive GearJunkie content direct to your inbox.