ShelterBox ambassador hikes 58 Fourteeners and raises close to $100,000
58 Fourteeners in 78 days raising nearly $100,000.
And this is just one of Brittney Woodrum’s projects.
The University of Denver student is an ambassador for the Santa Barbara-based relief organization ShelterBox.
As a way to raise money to provide shelter and supplies to disaster victims around the world, specifically housing displaced families due to COVID-19, she hiked 58 of Colorado’s Fourteeners with a ShelterBox on her back.
“Because of COVID, all of the sudden, I had a very free summer and I was looking for something to do that was meaningful and impactful, but also smart and safe,” Ms. Woodrum told the News-Press.
As an avid outdoorswoman and a student working on her humanitarian assistance master’s degree, she managed to combine work with pleasure, and surpassed her goal with flying colors.
The hiker spent 49 days actually hiking, where she lived out of her car for much of the time. Ms. Woodrum said she would wake up between 3 and 5 a.m. each morning, reach the top of a mountain between 9 and 11 a.m., come down, have lunch and drive to the next trailhead.
Not to mention, she was carrying the cooler-sized ShelterBox on her back for every hike.
“I think if I hadn’t had a greater cause to be out there doing this for, I would have quit on day two,” she said. “As bulky and awkward as the box looked, if I hadn’t had it on my back, I wouldn’t have been out there.”
Ms. Woodrum managed to avoid the forest fires, thunderstorms and snowstorms in Colorado, only having to postpone a few climbs. While she went into the project thinking she’d climb many of the mountains solo, as her project gained traction, she gained company.
“I had so many friends from different chapters of my life hearing about what I was doing come join me,” the hiker said. “Rotarians came out and joined me…People who had heard about the project met me on the mountain…
“I have several friends that I did not have at the beginning that I just met on the mountainside. One of the coolest parts was the unique community I was able to create with people who got onboard.”
She added that initially, she would have seen raising $5,000 as a success. Needless to say, the ShelterBox ambassador achieved her goal.
This isn’t Ms. Woodrum’s first outdoor activity to raise money. From cycling from Oregon to Canada for affordable housing to hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail (2,184 miles) for mental health, she has found, and is looking for, many creative ways to raise money.
“I like physical challenges, but I’ve found that it’s so much more rewarding to do something like that for a greater cause,” she said. “It makes you a lot more accountable and it creates this story around what you’re doing for people.
“It’s just been this incredible surprise of the project that all that money was donated to ShelterBox’s current COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.”
ShelterBox President Kerri Murray said Ms. Woodrum’s accomplishment was a perfect example of how to make lemonade out of lemons during a pandemic.
“What she did was awe-inspiring, and I think that during a pandemic, she really pivoted, kind of like we’ve done at our organization,” she told the News-Press. “We’ve found a way through all the obstacles we’ve been facing this year.”
The money raised by Ms. Woodrum will go toward deployment essentials responding to disasters around the world and people displaced from the coronavirus, including equipment costs, shelters, tents, blankets, water purification, solar lanterns, COVID-19 hygiene supplies and all other supplies for humanitarian aid to displaced families.
“Her mission and the mission of the organization and the work that we do every day at ShelterBox is trying to tackle one of the biggest issues that is plaguing our world — the massive displacement of people,” Ms. Murray said. “There’s more people displaced in our world today than in any time in recorded history.
“For us, shelter is one of the most profound differences you can make in someone’s life.”
ShelterBox volunteers have achieved milestones such as running marathons with a full-sized ShelterBox on their backs or cycling the two longest land masses in the world to raise awareness.
“We live in a community of people that are drawn to action and also very active,” the ShelterBox president said. “But, it doesn’t have to be climbing a mountain — everybody can really make a difference by tapping into the causes they care about. For Brittney, it was combining passions.”
Ms. Woodrum said she is confident those Colorado peaks “will not be the last peaks me and that box see together.” Her sights are set on reaching new heights and climbing 48 Fourteeners next summer in New England.