Free Special Needs Events Visit Western US

A free event for people between the ages of 3-months and 103-years with special needs, physical or developmental, is returning to various communities around the western United States. Several of last year’s events were cancelled due to the pandemic, with the exception of Twin Falls, Idaho; Rexburg, Idaho; Henderson, Nevada and Prescott, Arizona, which hosted events. These events, being organized by Courageous Kids Climbing, will provide the opportunity for the participants to enjoy an hour or two of rock climbing.


For people with special needs, rock wall climbing has helped enhance focusing, refine problem-solving skills, improves coordination and builds confidence while lessening the fear of heights. For those individuals with physical challenges, the event will take the courageous climber out of the horizontal world and let them experience the vertical world firsthand.


Courageous Kids Climbing travels with a cache of equipment, that when integrated into the climbing systems at the hosting facility and with the support of local volunteers, provides a safe experience for each of the courageous climbers. Reservations are required for all events. A registration packet can be obtained by contacting courageouskidsclimbing@gmail.com. Additional information can also be found on the organizations Facebook page: “Courageous Kids Climbing.”


Many of the climbing opportunities are supported by first responders. This is an opportunity for the first responders to obtain firsthand experience in working with people with special need while lessening the fear of people in uniform that the participants may have. First responders with rope rescue skills use the opportunity to practice their rope rescue skills as they set up special rope rescue systems to share the climbing experience with those individuals who have physical challenges.


McCall, Idaho-based Courageous Kids Climbing has been providing free opportunities for children between the ages of 3-months and 103-years with special needs, physical or developmental, to experience the various forms of rock climbing at events held in Idaho, Washington, California, Nevada and Arizona since 2014. The organization has conducted 73 events at 34 different venues with 782 participants.


Climbing opportunities are currently scheduled for the following communities:


Auburn (Seattle), Washington (YMCA) – June 5, noon to 2:00 pm
Bakersfield, California (Action Sports) – April 17, 10:00 am to noon
Boise, Idaho (Wings Center) – May 16, 10:00 am to noon.
Boise, Idaho (Downtown YMCA) – September 11, 10:00 am to noon
Bothell (Seattle), Washington (YMCA) – June 6, noon to 2:00 pm

Driggs, Idaho (Teton Rock Gym) – October 23, 10:00 am to noon
Ellensburg, Washington (CWU Climbing Center) – September, 18 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Henderson, Nevada (The Pad Climbing) – November 6, 10:00 am to noon
Las Vegas, Nevada (Nevada Climbing Center) – April 18, 10:00 am to noon
Longbranch, Washington (YMCA Camp Colman) – September 19, 10:00 am to noon
McCall, Idaho (Camp Pinewood) – May 22 (Sponsored by Krahn Home Furnishings) 10:00 am to noon
Moscow, Idaho (UI Climbing Center) – May 1, 10:00 am to noon. This event is being organized by students at the UI Centers for Disabilities and Human Development.
Prescott, Arizona (Gripstone Climbing) – November 7, 10:00 am to noon
Pullman, Washington (WSU Climbing Center) – September 26, 9:00 am to noon
Rexburg, Idaho (The Rock Gym – Rexburg) – April 19, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Spokane, Washington (Wild Walls) – April 24, 10:00 am to noon
Spokane Valley, Washington (YMCA) – September 25, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Twin Falls, Idaho (Gemstone Climbing) – May 15 and Sept.12, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Wenatchee, Washington (Riverfront Climbing) – April 25, 10:00 am to noon


In addition to rock climbing, the organizations IceClimbers program provides free ice- skating opportunities for people with special needs. Supported by local skaters, the event provides the opportunity for anyone with special needs to experience ice skating. The organization travels with several ice skate trainers, including one with a built in harness along with several specialized Binder-Lift lifting devices. Current events are planned for McCall, Idaho on July 4 and tentatively for Lewiston, Idaho on October 3.

The organizations Climbing On Stuff program provides free opportunities for school age children who are legally blind to look at things like fighter jets, helicopters, smokejumpers and Nez Perce Native Americans, with their hands. On April 11, the kids will be looking at fire trucks in Bakersfield, California. This event is sponsored by Pierce Manufacturing, a builder of fire apparatus. On October 2, the kids will be meeting Idaho State Police troopers and looking at their police cars in an event sponsored by Rogers Toyota of Lewiston. Then on November 13, the kids will be involved in a STEM program in Palmdale, California to be hosted by a major aerospace company.


On Saturday, June 12 from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm, the organization will be conducting the first ever climbing competition for first responders at The Commons Climbing Gym in Boise, Idaho. Fire, EMS and law enforcement first responders will be competing against each other as part of a fundraising effort for Courageous Kids Climbing. The event is being sponsored by Boise Mobile Equipment, a fire apparatus manufacturer, and Lithia Boise Ford.


Courageous Kids Climbing is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For more information contact
courageouskidsclimbing@gmail.com.

Jeff Riechmann is the event coordinator and executive director of Courageous Kids Climbing. With friend Larry Morton of Cascade, Idaho, they founded Courageous Kids Climbing in 2014. Jeff was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. Jeff has retired from the Kern County (CA) Fire Department, where he worked as a firefighter. He also retired as a deputy fire chief from the Air Force Reserve, having filled positions on Space Shuttle rescue teams, earning an Air Force Commendation Medal and two Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medals. He was also recognized by NASA for this work. His first charity project was serving as the promoter of the Firefighter’s Grand Prix at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California for the three years (1989-91) that the event was held. This stock car race raised over $40,000 for the Alisa Ann Ruch California Burn Foundation. Jeff currently resides in McCall, Idaho with his wife Charlotte.

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