For Jeffrey Lockwood, climbing mountains and helping people are both part of his daily routine. Having worked as a caregiver for people with disabilities and a professional mountain guide, Lockwood has seen firsthand just how inaccessible the outdoors can be for those who need extra assistance. This is where his nonprofit, the Lockwood Foundation, comes in.
Since 2018, the Lockwood Foundation has dedicated itself to “making adventure accessible to people of all abilities.” It runs outdoor trips for people with physical or financial limitations, assisting them on hikes all throughout the state, and even occasionally summiting 14ers.
“There’s a huge gap, almost like a vacuum,” says Lockwood, when it comes to hiking trail access for people with disabilities. He first recognized the problem through his work as a caregiver, when one of his clients, Zara Vargues, expressed a desire to get out into the mountains. Always game for an outdoor challenge, Lockwood started taking her on trips, coming up with ways for her to get into the wilderness despite her limitations.
“We started thinking, ‘How can we share this with other people and push the boundaries of what we’re doing?’” Lockwood says.
This line of thinking led to the creation of the Lockwood Foundation, where Vargues currently serves as a board member. In the beginning, there was a lot of improvising, with Lockwood occasionally carrying participants up mountains on his back, just so they could see the summit.
“Although I hope to never have to do piggybacks again, it was amazing when we were at the top,” he says. “To watch participants sit on top of the world—that was when I realized this is what we need to be doing. It was like watching people who wake up and have the ability to fly.”
Today, the foundation uses the Black Diamond “TrailRider,” a rickshaw-style off-road wheelchair, to facilitate trips. While the foundation is still in its early stages, Lockwood is hard at work building a volunteer base to run more adventures to a variety of destinations, making the mountains of Colorado truly accessible to everyone.
The Lockwood Foundation
Nonprofit that helps people with physical and financial limitations get into the mountains.