Kelsy Woodson says she learned to dream big at Fort Lewis College. In June she is putting those dreams to use, when she climbs California's Mt. Shasta as part of the Breast Cancer Fund’s “Climb Against the Odds.”
“I have never climbed anything like Mt. Shasta. But I will do so with cancer survivors and other climbers who have lost those dear to them,” Woodson says. “We will be raising awareness about breast cancer, and raising money to help remove toxic elements from our environment that are known to cause cancer.”
Although this will be the first time Woodson has attempted to climb a mountain of this magnitude – Mt. Shasta peaks at 14,179 feet – she’ll have good support thanks to her employer, Osprey Packs, located in Cortez, Colorado, just a half hour west of Durango.
Woodson is the Event & Social Media Coordinator for Osprey Packs, a position she calls a dream job. She initially got connected to Osprey through an internship while studying at FLC.
“The School of Business Administration was a huge help in my landing the internship,” she says. “My degree is in International Business, and I was working with my professor, Dr. Simon Walls, to find a position at an international company. He encouraged me to look into Osprey. So I pitched a two-month internship to earn my last three credits to graduate. Two months after graduating (in December 2011), I secured a position there that matched my personality and background.”
Osprey has been a major sponsor of “Climb Against the Odds,” donating backpacks to participants. The company also helped Woodson with fundraising and the costs of the climb. It's that spirit of community service that makes Woodson feel at home working for the company, she says. “My favorite part of my job is the awesome people I work with, who allow me to truly be who I am. I love the products we make. I’m proud to work there,” she explains.
During her time at FLC, Woodson enjoyed the like-minded community of students and professors who were interested in the outdoors. While she spent most of her time engaged in academics, she got outside to explore by rafting, hiking, and snowboarding. She also made use of the Outdoor Pursuits program, renting gear and participating in the trips and workshops the program offers.
“I really can’t overstate how much I loved FLC,” she says. “So many people come there for the same reason and share a similar worldview.”
To train for the adventure, Woodson has been climbing on the local cliffs near Durango, and she’s also spent significant time on her mountain bike. She feels very grateful for the support she’s received so far from the Durango community and beyond.
“I believe that as humans, we are inclined to do good for one another. We are obliged to take care of not only ourselves and those around us, but also our home and environment. This is a common etiquette that the residents of Durango uphold,” Woodson says. “Osprey and FLC as communities have taught me these ethics in a variety of ways. Between my college career and professional experience with Osprey, I have been able to develop standards of environmental integrity and social responsibility that would have never been possible without these two unique experiences.”
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Donations to Woodson's climb can be made here.