One day after returning from a particularly affecting hike, Kevin Schwieger was anxious to talk about his experience. Kevin, who is the Marketplace Pastor at Grace Chapel in Mason, as well as an avid adventurer and hiker, returned to church after his hike. The first person he encountered was Deborah Rosen, a member of his congregation, who had lost her ability to walk years earlier.
The poignancy of the moment wasn’t lost on Kevin, who realized that expressing his enthusiasm for hiking could be insensitive to those, like Deborah, who can no longer walk. The thought of someone being unable to take part in his most beloved pastime was devastating. It was then that the idea for Luke 5 Adventures was born: an organization that offers free hiking trips to those who have lost the ability to hike without assistance.
“I wanted to help people with mobility issues get out into nature, and I don’t mean just on a paved path, but off-road, up the hills and down in the valleys,” Kevin explains.
He became energized by the possibility of being able to help people with mobility challenges in a new and unique way. Kevin searched and found many adaptive wheelchair options, but nothing that fit what he had in mind. Finally, he discovered an innovative French company called Joëlette and Co. who offer a unique one-wheel all-terrain wheelchair design, specifically made to help disabled people go on hikes and enjoy other adventurous activities. He then began raising money through donations and advertising by word of mouth.
After the funds had been raised, Kevin was able to start Luke 5 Adventures. In honor of Deborah Rosen, who inspired the project, Kevin nicknamed Luke 5’s first Joëlette unit “Rosie.” In addition, the inaugural Luke 5 Adventure hike was with Deborah at Caesar Creek. The experience was very special for her.
“It was absolutely fantastic. I had not been out in nature since 2005,” Deborah explains, “And to experience the natural smells, see the creatures running around and hear the rush of the creek waters was wonderful. It was like an out of body experience.”
In addition to the sublime emotions that the riders experience, the volunteers also feel great joy taking part in the hikes.
“This is life changing for the client, but the helpful volunteers are just bubbling with positivity for days afterwards,” Kevin describes. “Our volunteers are equally impacted.”
“It’s truly an opportunity for joy that I’m so grateful for,” Deborah beams.
It quickly became necessary for Kevin to recruit an army of volunteers, who he refers to as “sherpas,” to help with the logistics of scheduling and organizing. Once word began to spread, sponsors soon reached out, avidly interested to help with the cause. Luke 5 Adventures has since been able to partner with REI Co-Op and the Warren County Board of Developmental Disabilities. They are also excited about their newest partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Be Well program.
Thus far, Luke 5 Adventures has hiked at Fort Ancient, Rentschler Forest, Caesar Creek and more. They were able to provide five people with incredible experiences before winter, with more scheduled for spring. Unfortunately, with the arrival of COVID-19, they were forced to put things on hold. Recently, however, they’ve started providing outings again for anyone who is interested.
“We have enough volunteers and enough resources to be ready to go at any point,” he says confidently.
If you would like to get involved, donate or schedule a hike, please visit Luke5Adventures.com or contact them at email@example.com. Your time spent will not go unappreciated.