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Local nonprofit helps those with physical disabilities access Colorado trails, mountains

Volunteers with The Lockwood Foundation help a TrailRider wheelchair user access a trail.
Posted at 5:28 PM, Jul 23, 2020

PUEBLO WEST — Being able to get outdoors is more important than ever right now, especially for those with limited mobility.

It's why a local nonprofit, The Lockwood Foundation, is continuing its mission to help people who are wheelchair-bound not only get outside, but climb mountains as well.

For a lot of people, accessing Colorado's trails is fairly easy. However, for Zara Vargues it's pretty challenging.

She said, "I can't walk on my own."

Vargues - a founding board member, ambassador, and participant with The Lockwood Foundation - explained that she has cerebral palsy.

Jeffrey Lockwood, executive director & board president of The Lockwood Foundation, said, "A manual wheelchair or a power wheelchair like Zara's would never have a chance on going up 99% of the trails in Colorado."

It's stories like hers that inspired Lockwood to create the nonprofit. He's been a mountain guide and worked in disability care for several years.

Lockwood said, "For ages, I had wondered how do you bring these two things together?"

With the purchase of the adaptive TrailRider wheelchair last year and volunteer hikers, outdoor adventures for people with a physical disability changed forever.

Lockwood said, "From the back, it's almost like pushing a wheelbarrow. From the front, it's almost like lifting a rickshaw...our goal was to show the community in Colorado as well as outside of Colorado what people with physical disabilities are capable of and to show them that with community, technology, and a lot of bravery what we can make accessible to them."

One example - almost reaching the top of Quandary Peak last year.

Lockwood said, "This year we'll be going after Mt. Elbert."

It's a trip that Vargues will be going on.

Lockwood said, "She never thought that she could do something like this."

It's the kind of opportunity they want more people in the community to take advantage of. It's why this Saturday the organization will be hosting a TrailRider Tryout at Lovell Park in Pueblo West from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Lockwood said, "This is an opportunity for both prospective riders, participants to try out the chair, see if it's comfortable, take on some obstacles like rocks and railroad ties."

It's also a chance for prospective volunteers to try pushing and pulling the chair.

Lockwood said, "We are more driven than ever to make sure that the outdoors are accessible because right now it is one of the only safe ways to get out with people."