Former Miss Waco climbing for a good cause in Ecuador

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 5:36 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A beloved former Miss Waco who lost her leg in an accident while stopping to help a stranded motorist near Waco is getting ready to climb one of the highest mountains in Ecuador with the help of her prosthetic leg to raise money for those in underserved countries who don’t have access to prosthetics.

“Because prosthetics should be a right and not a luxury,” Jamie Blanek, 33, tearfully said.

Blanek’s determination to beat the odds following her near fatal accident in 2021 has garnered international attention and left her crushing goals most would never in a lifetime.

Jamie only spent three weeks in the hospital following the accident, which left her as an above the knee amputee. Her other leg was left shattered and has required multiple surgeries.

But Jamie has never let her disability slow her down.

Within months, she was back to the gym, working out consistently.

Within a year, she’d earned a scholarship from the National Ability Center for its adaptive snowboarding program, a sport she knew little about.

Within two years post-accident, Jamie had qualified for the Para Snowboard World Championships in Spain in just her first year of competitive snowboarding.

Jamie’s entered a Spartan race and now she’s taking her mental toughness and training to climb Cayambe, the third-highest mountain in Ecuador at nearly 19,000 feet.

Jamie’s climbing with a nonprofit called the Range of Motion Project, or ROMP, which is an international group dedicated to improving the mobility of people with amputation through high-quality prosthetic care, follow-up services and community-based rehab.

Since 2005, the group has provided nearly 5,000 custom-made prosthetic devices and conducted over 14,000 patient visits in Guatemala, Ecuador and the U.S.

Jamie said the mission is extremely personal to her especially after spending months early-on with no prosthetic.

“After my accident I was in a wheelchair for seven months. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through,” Jamie said. “I cannot imagine not having mobility in a developing country like Ecuador, where there isn’t access to proper care and the terrain is so brutal.”

Jamie will leave next week and climb alongside athletes from across the United States and Latin America with a goal of raising $125,000.

“I’m looking forward to standing on the top of the mountain with my teammates and knowing that I just accomplished something so hard and that it was for something bigger than me,” Jamie said.

“I’m always looking for that next ridge line, asking myself what mountain am I going to conquer next? This will be another achievement I can be proud of and a reminder to myself that anything is possible.”

If you want to donate to Jamie’s climb, you can scan the QR code or by going to Fundraising for Range of Motion Project.