Erik’s Reach Award & Reach Scholarship

The Reach Award & Reach Scholarships are presented by the Erik Weihenmayer Reach Foundation. They acknowledge individuals who have broken through personal barriers in order to elevate their family, their community and the world. These people exemplify the No Barriers Life element “Reach,” the arduous process of pushing through uncertainty towards immense possibilities.

Erik Weihenmayer Reach Foundation is a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 non-profit organization recognized by the IRS service code under the federal ID #47-3765765. Your donation helps more people discover that: “What’s Within You is Stronger than What’s in Your Way!” Please consider a donation today.

Erik Weihenmayer Reach Foundation
1200 Arapahoe Street
Golden, CO 80401

For questions, email:

Reach Scholarships will be granted to individuals who demonstrate merit and will be provided on a case-by-case basis. Applicants will receive funding for the full cost of attendance of a No Barriers program, such as a Youth or Warriors expedition. In addition, Touch the Top will share their journeys and provide them with a suite of Erik’s books and films.

Six exemplary individuals will be chosen annually to receive the Reach Award. They will be provided an all-expenses paid trip for them and a partner to attend the No Barriers Summit. They will also be gifted a complete package of Erik’s award-winning films, best-selling books, and a Reach pendant engraved in both print and Braille. Touch the Top will highlight their story, acknowledge them at the Summit and help spread awareness for their important causes.

The No Barriers Summit is an annual 2 to 4-day event that includes over 40 adaptive activities, phenomenal speakers, and a showcase of innovative technologies and products that are shattering conventions. A family-friendly event, the Summit is for people of all ages and abilities. At the Summit, we envision a world in which the power of the human spirit transcends barriers, where you will be surrounded by a community who knows “What’s Within You Is Stronger Than What’s In Your Way”.  

2018 No Barriers Summit General Information

Reach Award & Scholarship Application: APPLY HERE

2017 Reach Award Recipients

Thomas Dixon

Struck by a car In his mid-twenties, Thomas Dixon suffered a traumatic brain injury which caused seizures and a type of amnesia consisting of severe losses in his episodic memory. He does not recall anything about his days’ activities. As an alchemist, Thomas created the innovative mobile app  ME.mory to provide the missing information. It’s similar to an external hard drive which he can use to capture and piece together his day.


Ethan Johnson

As a young boy, Ethan  was kidnapped from his family in Ethiopia, blinded and used as a beggar. Fortunately, at age 10 he was adopted by family in the United States. He faced numerous emotional, physical and cultural barriers, including slowly learning not only English but English Braille. He found sports which became an outlet and passion. Despite the hardships he had faced in his younger years, he was thriving in America. Always determined, he finished college, found employment and lives by the motto, “Wanting it won’t get it for you, you have to go get it!”


Billy Lister

2016 Paralympic cyclist, Billy Lister, was diagnosed with a rare and acute brain abnormality which resulted in a loss of mobility due to a stroke. 17 years later, after dedicated training, Billy represented  Team USA in the Rio Olympics, competing in both track and road events. With 6 million stroke survivors living in the U.S., Billy hopes his aspirations will lend them hope and courage. He has pledged to train for the next three paralympics in the years 2020, 2024, and 2028.


Heidi McKenzie

Heidi  was pursuing her dreams of a fashion career until a car accident made her a T4 paraplegic. She was now determined to not only continue following her passion, but to break barriers in the fashion world. She started Alter UR Ego a clothing line for people in wheelchairs. With adaptive features such as accessible pockets and straps for ease of dressing, her fashionable and functional designer jeans are her most popular item.


Ian (Pan) Vantrease

Ian  was horribly burned as a young boy in China and was adopted by a family in Kentucky at age 5. After multiple surgeries and painful skin grafts, including reconstruction of his eye lids, Pan has remained incredibly resilient. A leader in the classroom, a fun-loving comic, and a social butterfly, he draws others in with his positivity. Pan shows us all that, “What’s Within Us is Stronger Than What’s In Our Way.”


Steve Wampler

Born with Cerebral Palsy, Steve Wampler loved wilderness camp and the outdoors as a kid.  After graduating from UC Davis with an Environmental Engineering degree, he and his wife started CAMP WAMP , for kids with disabilities. He generated support for the camp by climbing the monolith rock face, El Capitan. Finishing the arduous climb in 6 days he became the first person with CP to reach the top.


2016 Reach Award Recipients

Kayla Montgomery

Kayla  is one of the best young distance runners in the country. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at only 14, Kayla pursued her love of running and continues to shatter each barrier in her path. Despite her loss of feeling in her legs about a mile into each race, she relentlessly pushes on and collapses in her coach’s arms at the finish line. Now a student at Lipscomb University, Kayla runs on the women’s cross-country team. Watch her story here: Catching Kayla


Mike Powell

Mike was diagnosed in 2009 with Polymyositis, a progressive autoimmune disease. A former high school wrestling state champion, he was now a renowned wrestling coach producing 10 individual state champions and 31 all-state wrestlers. As his career and passion focused on the physical, this diagnosis could have been devastating. But, Mike’s dedication to the sport of wrestling and the youth he coaches never wavered. He continues to support his team and mentor underprivileged youth and was even featured on  ESPN E:60


Cole Rogers

Cole  is a young martial artist that was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that fused his joints, weakened his muscles, and ultimately forced him into a wheelchair. Rather than shrinking, Cole fought to make his life meaningful and exciting. Through his pursuit of the martial arts he has transformed not only his body but also his mind. Cole also founded FightAbility, the first organization specializing in realistic self-defense training for the differently abled.