Amanda Boxtel, Bridging Bionics making strides after national recognition

Kate Wilkins
The Aspen Times
A group of the 2018 CNN Heroes of the Year are in Aspen this weekend to support the Basalt-based Bridging Bionics. Friday they group took a trip to the Maroon Bells. They are (back row, left to right): Ellen Stackable (Poetic Justice); Maria Rose Belding (MEANS); Heidi Mickelson, Luke Mickelson (Sleep in Heavenly Peace); Susan Munsey (Generate Hope); Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin (Pearls of Africa, Nigeria); Chris Stout (Community Veterans Project); Erin Stout; and (front row, left to right) Ricardo Pun-Chong (Inspira, Peru), Amanda Boxtel (Bridging Bionics Foundation), Benson Boxtel (canine assistant); Gabriela Trelles (Inspira, Peru), Tom Stout (canine assistant).
Peggy Wilke / Courtesy photo

After being named one of CNN’s top 10 Heroes of the Year for 2018, Amanda Boxtel returned from the ceremony in New York City feeling inspired by her fellow finalists.

When the founder of the Basalt-based Bridging Bionics had the chance to help 8 year-old Daleska, who was born with cerebral palsy, Boxtel quickly joined forces with Dr. Ricardo Pun-Chong to improve the little girl’s quality of life.

Pun-Chong, founder of Inspira which provides free housing to families with desperately ill children, was ultimately named 2018 Hero of the Year. After meeting in New York, Pun-Chong approached Boxtel about helping Daleska.

Due to her condition, Daleska is unable to use her legs and had spent her life relegated to a stroller.

Boxtel provided Daleska with her first wheelchair, a state-of-the-art model complete with butterflies sewn into the fabric. The butterflies, Boxtel said, represent a “symbol of mobility and freedom.” Later this year, Boxtel plans to travel to Peru to reunite with Dr. Pun-Chong and finally meet Daleska in person.

Tonight, Pun-Chong and seven of the other 2018 Heroes will join Boxtel at the Hotel Jerome for the foundation’s inaugural Aspen Gala. Boxtel started Bridging Bionics in 2013, just over 20 years after a skiing accident rendered her paralyzed.

After connecting with the Heroes in December, Amanda described the bond they formed as unbreakable and special.

“Meeting them reinforces the idea to me that each and every person has a hero inside of them,” Boxtel said this week.

After the national media attention Bridging Bionics received after the ceremony, the foundation has seen “a much needed voice to our purpose and cause,” Boxtel said.

As well as the increased profile, Boxtel’s foundation received $10,000 from the media organization for being named a finalist.

Through Bridging Bionics, clients are able to receive treatment to increase their mobility for a “lower annual cost than the average gym membership,” Boxtel said.

With the money raised at the gala, Bridging Bionics will hire more staff to accommodate their growing demand. Since the Heroes ceremony in December, Bridging Bionics has started a six-month pilot program in Grand Junction, which they hope to transform into a fully operating satellite program by 2020.