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Join Springs man on his mission to hike 14 fourteeners
A Colorado Springs man is hoping a tragedy in the summer of 2011 will lead to a triumph in the summer of 2012.
Last summer the Constantinides family of Colorado Springs was camping in Wyoming when a threat of flooding prompted an evacuation of the campground where they were staying. Fleeing in the middle of the night, their VW van was swept away in rushing waters when a roadway collapsed.
Dr. Alex Constantinides survived, but his wife and their three young, adopted daughters did not.
Laurel Constantinides, an adoption worker, had just helped Dave West and his wife, Chrisa, adopt their daughter, Olivia.
“She was just the best thing ever,” West said of Laurel Constantinides. “She is really responsible for us having Olivia.”
To honor Constantinides, West plans to hike 14 fourteeners in 14 days and raise $14,000 for Half the Sky Foundation, a group that aids adoptive parents and assisted the Constantinides family.
“She left a hole this big,” West said of Constantinides, stretching his arms far apart. “I wanted to do something to put a little of it back.”
“Dave is a quiet guy but when he gets his mind on something he really works hard to make it happen,” said Chrisa West. “I’m so proud of him.”
West plans to begin hiking Sept. 1. He has raised $2,000 and hopes to raise the remaining $12,000 by the time he reaches his first trailhead.
“There are so many children that need help, that need love and family,” Chrisa West said.
Half the Sky officials told West $14,000 could help 20 special needs children who may never be adopted move into foster homes.
“This reignited my passion,” said West, who was adopted as a child.
“Part of this is to let people know about the wonderful gift of adoption,” West said. He and Chrisa are in the process of adopting another child. “There are so many people less fortunate than us. I want to motivate others to do something like this.”
“I know that Laurel would be happy,” said Teal Quon, who will hike one of the peaks with West. Quonsaid Constantinides helped during the process to adopt her daughters.
West doesn’t consider himself a mountaineer, but says he enjoys hiking Colorado’s mountains and has trekked above the base camp on Mount Everest.
“I just love climbing.”
West’s plan calls for hiking 35,000 feet in 82 miles and takes in a mix of easy and difficult hikes. Some days will include more than one summit to account for rest days or poor weather.
West talked to Denver meteorologist Chris Tomer, a climber, who said the first two weeks of September should bring the best weather for multiple climbs.
West hopes family members, friends and other hikers will join him — for one summit or all 14. He’s been hiking the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail, running and biking to get ready.
West has a link on his website encouraging people who do not like to hike to find their own “peak” and join the effort.
“Every little donation is going to help,” West said. “Ten bucks would be great.”