Albuquerque climber on mission to increase access to prosthetics for amputees
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Kyle Stepp is showing people no challenge is too great, his mission is to help others one step at a time.
“Getting up bright and early is like, honestly, my jam,” said Stepp.
Stepp is not afraid of waking up before sunrise.
“The funny thing is, you should see my dog in the morning. Because she does not want to get up in the morning,” Stepp said.
For him movement is medicine and getting to the point he is now wasn’t easy.
“For 14 years I lived in boys’ homes, I lived in homeless shelters, I lived in a broken home,” he said.
At 14-years-old he had a minor leg injury that didn’t heal. Then he got the news that would change his life forever.
“Life went from ‘oh it was just injury,’ to ‘you have stage four osteosarcoma and you have a prognosis of 20% chance to live,’” said Stepp.
Doctors found a rare bone cancer in his lower left leg. After chemo he opted for an internal prosthetic – to save his leg – but the steel implant would make him vulnerable to injury.
Then almost two years ago.
“I was downhill mountain biking in Angel Fire, doing what I love! Just being outside, ripping the trails,” Stepp said. “I came off of a jump, the back tire slipped out and I flew into a tree. The only thing that broke, was the metal inside me.”
He knew what this meant.
“At the height of the pandemic, no visitors, no guests. They had to turn the urgent care into inpatient rooms and on October 20th, Dr. Chafy amputated,” recalled Stepp.
But, Stepp saw life on one leg as an opportunity, from summiting the highest point in New Mexico to tackling the toughest slopes in the state.
“This piece of equipment, right here, unlocks someone’s freedom,” Stepp said. “I’m going to be joining a team of badass humans who are comprised of fellow amputees and disability advocates.”
Now, Stepp is training for a different early morning hike.
“Literally, a week from today. I will be submitting Cotopaxi at sunrise,” said Stepp.
He’s joining “ROMP” or the Range of Motion Project, a group that raises money for a people across the globe like him.
“Together we’re going to raise over $150,000 to provide high quality care and prosthetics that need it most,” said Stepp.
The World Health Organization says 90% of the people who need prosthetics don’t have access to them.
“The piece we can all understand and feel, is that journey to the summit. Like what you’ve gone through, the pain you went you through. And so everyone deserves the opportunity to summit their peak,” Stepp said.
Moving forward one step at a time, now helping others do the same.