After scrolling through photos of the beautiful view from the top of Pinnacle Mountain, University of Central Arkansas alumna DeAsia Romes ’17 found herself wishing she could see it for herself instead of on social media.
“I had always wanted to go, but I didn’t know how to go about it,” Romes said.
Romes suffers from cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her muscle coordination and balance, and uses a wheelchair most of the time.
Now an alumna of Sigma Sigma Sigma, Romes was a student member of the sorority when she met Hayden Murry at a Phi Gamma Delta philanthropy event in fall 2015. Murry asked five of his fraternity brothers-Benjy Richards, Landon Bear, Corey Pillow, Steven Bowen and Cesar Ramriez-got together to make the plan a reality.
“Our first trip was to Pinnacle Mountain. They carried me, piggyback-style, up the mountain. We didn’t think anything about it. It probably wasn’t even safe,” Romes said, chuckling. “But I trusted the guys.”
Each fraternity brother took turns carrying Romes up the mountain, which has an elevation of 1,011 feet.
“When we got to the top, I was blown away by the view,” Romes said. “Everybody’s seen the pictures, but you’re not really there to take in the whole experience until you’re really there. It was 90 degrees that day, during the end of August, but it was something beautiful to experience.”
The first trip was so successful, they planned many more to follow. On the second trip, the team traveled to Petit Jean Mountain. At the top of the mountain, they came face to face with a new challenge. “We came to some water,” Romes said. “They mentioned there was a waterfall, but that we had to cross the lake to get there. I wanted to go, but I said, ‘How are we going to manage this?’ They came up with a plan pretty quickly.”
They carried Romes across the water in a folding camp chair.
“The best part was the waterfall. The rocks were slippery, but the guys made it work somehow,” Romes said. “They picked the chair up, and put me directly underneath the waterfall. You never know how exhilarating something is until you experience it in real life. The water stung the back of my neck, but it was an adrenaline rush, and everybody was smiling and laughing. It was a good time.”
The team also climbed Mount Magazine in the fall of 2016, reaching the highest point in Arkansas at an elevation of 2,753 feet.In February of 2017, Romes and her ever-growing team joined together with the UCA Police Department to tackle Mount Nebo.
“The experience made me appreciate the kindness of people. I know they took time out of their days to carry me up these mountains,” Romes said. “It just shows me that there are kind people in the world.”
Several local news channels and newspapers picked up Romes’ story, and she even got a phone call from The Ellen Show. While the fame of going viral can be overwhelming, Romes said as long as it inspires somebody else, it’s worth it.
“To see the positive impact that we have made on people, on the City of Conway even for a short while, and online, just by me doing one random thing that I wanted to do shows me that there is still good in the world.”