Rotary Club Of Los Alamos: Brittney Woodrum Talks About Her Adventures Raising Money For ‘ShelterBox’

Brittney Woodrum climbed all 58 of Colorado’s Fourteeners to raise money for ShelterBox USA. Courtesy/Rotary

By LINDA HULL
Vice President
Rotary Club of Los Alamos

“I’d never hiked a Fourteener until last summer,” confessed Rotary Club guest speaker Brittney Woodrum as she spoke March 30 to members from her home in Leadville, Colo. (“Fourteener” is the name given to Colorado’s mountain peaks of 14,000 feet or higher.)

Why is her inexperience noteworthy? Because Woodrum went on to hike all of Colorado’s 58 Fourteeners in just 76 days in July, August and September 2020.

Woodrum, a Rotary Peace Fellow candidate, was inspired to attempt this feat as a fundraiser when she was appointed as a ShelterBox Ambassador just over a year ago. ShelterBox, a Rotary International affiliate, provides disaster relief to communities imperiled by natural disasters and warfare.

The program began as a Rotary project in 2000 in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. ‘ShelterBox’ first identifies disaster areas and sends a needs-assessment team in advance so the boxes, large sturdy bins of supplies, can be customized with suitable amenities that will assist in the repair or rebuilding of homes for the afflicted refugees. Cultural and religious sensitivities are considered by the team as supplies are collected and provided. 

The boxes typically contain a sturdy tent with options to sleep up to 10. The bin also comes with blankets and kits that include cookware, solar lighting and a variety of tools. A ShelterBox costs about $1,000, which includes the contents plus delivery. In the recent past, the Rotary Club of Los Alamos purchased two ShelterBoxes, which were then assigned for delivery in war-torn Syria. Of late, ShelterBoxes from Rotary International have not only been deployed to Syria, but also to the Philippines and several African countries.

Woodrum, a tri-athlete and marathon runner, had admired other ShelterBox fundraisers, such as cycling from Chile to Alaska—and she herself had raised $50,000 for Habitat for Humanity and its housing alliances by biking across the U.S. As a ShelterBox Ambassador, she challenged herself to raise money by climbing all of the Fourteeners in one summer.

In total, she reached the summit of each of the 58 Fourteeners in a 78-day, 540-mile crisscross of Colorado. Setting a goal of $1,400 for each peak, Woodrum began her hikes in July.  After more than 232,200 steps, her official hiking ended in September, “the wild-card weather month,” but funds are still finding their way to ShelterBox in honor of her endeavor. So far, Woodrum has raised more than $98,000.

Woodrum described a typical day as waking between 3 and 5 a.m. for a solid “alpine start” and returning between 9 and 11 a.m. to her car, her home-on-the-road. This early-hour schedule allowed her to avoid the Colorado afternoon monsoon weather and the hottest part of a high-altitude day. She then drove to her next destination, set up camp, and by 7 or 8 p.m. was in bed.

“Then, I’d just get up and repeat,” Woodrum said.

The ShelterBox she took with her weighed 8 pounds; her gear between 12-14 pounds. In addition to water, snacks, sunscreen, and layered clothing, she also packed banners and tokens Rotary Clubs and friends asked her to photograph at different summits.

She said she found her second day the most challenging. This was the day she ascended Little Bear, east of Alamosa, which is a Class 4 climb with “an extreme potential for rock slides”. Falling rock along the trail amasses into a gully, requiring the technical skills of a climber more than a hiker. Its exposure is also very close to the edge. It is considered one of the “most challenging and dangerous” Fourteeners.  After carefully maneuvering her way to the top, Woodrum said she was able to approach the other peaks with “much more confidence”, which was always tempered by caution.

Along the way, Woodrum remarked that “the best part was meeting friends, Rotarians, and strangers” who followed her on social media and sometimes joined her in person to share the adventure and to support a good cause. Many people she met offered her home-cooked meals, a comfortable place to sleep, an opportunity to do laundry, and one even helped wash her car. Woodrum remarked that “someone you meet for two minutes could stay in your life forever.”

On her hikes, Woodrum saw forest fires on nearby Colorado mountains and encountered thunderstorms and snow. Also among her wilderness encounters were coyotes, bears, moose, mountain goats, marmots, long-horned sheep, martens and pika—and an occasional cow.  

Following her pursuit of humanitarian service, Woodrum serves as executive director of the Community Meals and Food Bank of the Rockies at St. George Episcopal Church in Leadville. At more than 10,000 feet above sea level, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in North America. Woodrum feels right at home!

For more information about ShelterBox and to support Woodrum’s efforts, click this link.

Woodrum, a Kentucky native, graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2015 with a focus in Nonprofit Administration and Spanish. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Humanitarian Assistance from the University of Denver. Over the past four years, she has put her education to good use, working for a variety of non-governmental organizations across the globe, including several in Mexico, Hong Kong and Myanmar. In Myanmar, she worked with Buddhist nuns to start a school.

In her free time, Woodrum enjoys cycling, hiking and studying languages. As an avid thru-hiker, she has completed the entirety of the Appalachian Trail and Camino de Santiago and hopes that before leaving Colorado, she’ll have the opportunity to explore all that the Rockies have to offer. 

Above all else, however, Woodrum said that her ultimate goal is to be of service to the global community.  Woodrum plans to dedicate her life to solving logistical challenges across the field of Humanitarian Assistance.

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966. Rotary areas of focus, as noted in above, include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment.

To learn more about the Rotary Club of Los Alamos and its humanitarian service, contact President Laura Gonzales at 505.699.5880 or Membership Chair Skip King at 505.662.8832.

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