Make Your Own Legends: The Jonny Copp Foundation

“The Jonny Copp Foundation was formed out of love; of love and respect for activism through adventure, the environment, for the dreamers, adventurers and change makers, and as a gift to the community that loved and supported him.”

Phyllis Copp’s son, along with Micah Dash and Wade Johnson, was taken by an avalanche in 2009 while attempting a new route on Mount Edgar in Sichuan Province, China. Jonny Copp was a Patagonia Ambassador and filled his life with his passions. He was an explorer, a climber, a writer, a photographer and an activist—a true inspiration to the people who knew him.

The seed money for the foundation came directly from Jonny’s bank account and was supplemented by the Copp family and their friends.

“We had no idea how long we could sustain it,” says Phyllis Copp, who recognized outside funding would taper in the years following the tragedy.

Since 2009, the foundation was able to financially support the endeavors of several climbers, filmmakers, and artists each year. In 2013, the Jonny Copp Grant was able to fund climbing expeditions as well as make a donation to Rocky Mountain Rescue of Boulder.

The Jonny Copp Foundation gives back to the Boulder community in ways that celebrate the things Jonny loved. The foundation sponsors local photography exhibits, the Copp-Dash Award which sponsors climbing expeditions, and Jonny’s Adventure Film Festival to name a few. The family also donated Jonny’s truck to Boulder’s Growing Gardens. Now known as “Jonny’s Truck Farm,” the mobile farm is used to spread the word about other passions: organic farming and healthy eating.

Members of the Jonny Copp Foundation “have been and continue to be motivated by the wonderful Boulder Community,” funneling 100% of proceeds back into the foundation.

The Copp family plans to extend the reach of the foundation in the coming years, publishing Jonny’s journals to inspire young writers and starting a program to promote journal keeping and experience writing among grade school students.

“Jonny supported and inspired so many people in his life time; it’s our passion and our honor to continue to do so in his memory.”



All quotes were taken from an interview with Phyllis Copp. For more information, to donate, or apply for the Jonny Copp grant, visit

Photo courtesy of the Jonny Copp Foundation.

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