Written by: Emily Zoltai
Emily has been involved with ROMP for the last six years, and can truly say it has changed the trajectory of her life. After participating in a ROMP Volunteer Trip, Emily went back to school to become an O&P practitioner and help bring more resources to countries that need it the most. Emily appreciates the opportunity to have found a career and a path that gives her so much joy, and to know many others whose fire has been lit by opportunities like this.
Wow, what a month this has been. During the month of February, I have had the privilege of hosting and attending numerous events on behalf of ROMP, culminating in a trip to the Hanger Education Fair in Las Vegas to talk about all the wonderful things ROMP is up to this year! It’s amazing to see all of the different causes that ROMP falls into, and see firsthand how we are inspiring such a variety of communities that believe in the empowerment of mobility and want to contribute to our mission.
Gear & Beer Winter Night Festival
The first event this month was Gear & Beer, which was hosted by our co-working space, Wayfinder Co-op. ROMP was the nonprofit partner for this event, and we got to taste local beers and check out new outdoor gear all while sharing the mission of ROMP to attendees. A portion of the proceeds went to ROMP and we cannot wait to collaborate with Wayfinder for future ROMP events.
LEADMAN – The Dave Mackey Story
Next, my fiance and I traveled up to Boulder and set up a ROMP booth at the premier of “LEADMAN – The Dave Mackey Story.” Dave is an incredible ultrarunner. When he lost his leg in a running accident, he decided to take that pain he felt and use it as a platform to tell his story. I was honored to meet him and see how much of an impact he had made on his community. The theater was packed and we even got to participate in a Q&A panel after the show. It was a joy to meet this community and share with them everything ROMP is doing around the globe.
Colorado Brewery Running Series 2019 Kickoff Party
Next, we were the chosen nonprofit for Colorado Brewery Running Series’ 2019 Kickoff Party and Craft Beer Festival. Several times ROMP has worked with the CBR, which holds 5k runs at breweries across Colorado with registration proceeds going toward partnering nonprofits (us!). Thanks to our many volunteers hosting our ROMP booth, the event was a success! It was so great to see returning volunteers come and help us out. I gave a short speech about ROMP and we had many people ask about us, play with our prosthetic arms, and sign up to learn more about ROMP and our volunteer trips.
Hanger Education Fair
Lastly, I headed to Las Vegas for the Hanger Education Fair. This is an education and business conference put on by the executives of O&P company, Hanger, Inc. During the event, I met patients and practitioners whose lives had been changed by an assistive device. Many people who visited our booth had heard of ROMP before, and some had even been on one of our volunteer trips! We had pages of interested volunteer sign-ups, potential climb captains for Climbing for ROMP, and others eager to learn more. We signed up more than 30 new Components for a Cause donation sites, and I can’t begin to comprehend how many lives will be changed because of this.
During one of the Fair’s educational classes, I was able to share our mission and get others excited about Climbing for ROMP. Many offices loved the idea of creating a workplace bonding climb for ROMP this summer, and others were interested in getting involved with ROMP climbs already set up in their communities. It was powerful to see a shift in what Climbing for ROMP is today, and what it can be if we all come together to climb for a greater cause.
I also met the first man successfully implanted with osseointegrated prosthetics. I ran into many of our ROMP Ambassadors from all over the country, who work tirelessly to spread the message about ROMP. I met vendors who wanted to donate to us and practitioners who asked how they could help. I even made connections with some Hanger, Inc. executives and we hope to work with them in the future to get more of their practitioners interested and involved in everything ROMP has to offer.
All month, it was inspiring to be surrounded by so many kind-hearted people who got into the field to help and give back. Talking about their experiences in other countries or close to home, it was clear to me that we are in an industry where if we all put in the work and get our hands dirty, we truly have the possibility of changing the world.
I believe that healthcare is a human right and being lucky enough to go on that journey with someone is why I am working so hard to be a practitioner in the future. I have heard from many others like myself, that being involved in something this big helps you find your purpose. I have heard heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of perseverance. I have seen the human body and spirit overcome more than I ever thought possible. I have pushed myself to do more than I believed I was capable of. I have succeeded and I have failed, and I have grown through all of it.
When we are given the resources to be mobile, people are given back a piece of their humanity – and that is a priceless gift. So I hope we continue to come together and work to find these resources for everyone, because when we do, everyone wins.
Lastly, I wanted to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped us out this month, we could not have done it without you!