By Brian Maass
(CBS4) – Roger West, the founder of a groundbreaking boardwalk that allowed the disabled access to the Colorado outdoors, died last week.
“His mantra in his life was to leave no one out,” said his wife, Byron West. “He accomplished this in true fashion with Wilderness on Wheels.”
Roger West founded Wilderness on Wheels in 1986 with steely determination and just a few volunteers. His goal was to construct a wooden boardwalk up the side of a Colorado mountain so those confined to wheelchairs, their caregivers and other physically disabled outdoor lovers could enjoy the outdoors.
West was motived by discovering his father’s disability would make it impossible for him to enjoy the wilderness.
CBS4 first reported on the project near Kenosha Pass in 1989 and it soon gained widespread national exposure and acclaim.
West and his band of volunteers were eventually able to complete a full mile of an 8 foot wide boardwalk traversing a 12,000 foot Colorado mountain. The facility features fishing ponds, camping sites, huts and cabins, all wheelchair accessible.
During the summer of 2015, Wilderness on Wheels hosted 1,500 visitors.
“He succeeded beyond his dreams as his own model grew in scope and influence,” said Byron West.
Roger West died last Thursday after a long battle with prostate cancer.
He was at peace, said his wife, and ready to move on. Family and friends say his influence will continue as his vision of providing access to nature for the disabled has spread since he started Wilderness on Wheels.
“His mission was to stimulate others to do the same and he accomplished this goal. He accomplished this in true fashion with Wilderness on Wheels.”