Lakewood man overcomes odds to open NOSOTROS Rock Climbing Gym in Lakewood

Lakewood, OH - Every day people around the world work to open their own business, but often times only a small percentage of people succeed.

One Lakewood man beat the odds after seven years of saving up and with the support of a small group of people that believed in his dream.

Where It All Started

Peter Stancato gave rock climbing a try for the first time in 2011 while in Columbus for a wedding. It only took one time and he was hooked - or rather, obsessed.

"I was a stranger to the sport and I fell in love," Stancato said.

Days after his first climb, he got an idea. He was going to open his very own rock climbing gym.

"I couldn't shake the itch," he said.

So he spent the next year forming a business plan for the gym. Once he finished, he sent that plan to 20 of his closest friends and family, anxiously awaiting their feedback.

"I wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy and had a good idea." 

Those friends and family liked his plan and supported the idea, so he made minor changes and sent more copies of his business plan to investors.

In 2012, no one was interested, nor would they be for several years.

The Years In Between

Fast forward to 2016 and Stancato still didn't own a rock climbing gym.

All of the odds were against him. 

Investors turned him down over and over again. He didn't have nearly enough of his own money saved up to open a business. He couldn't find a space large enough in Lakewood. Plus, in 2015, his family grew. He was a father to a baby girl. 

But 2016 was the year his life came crashing down. 

His grandfather, who had been the father figure in his life, passed away.

"I still wear his ring every day," Stancato said.

That same year, his mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer, and over the next several months it worsened. 

"She had the kidney taken out and we thought everything was okay." he said. "But then we learned that she was a severe case. It moved from her kidneys to her lymph nodes. They took a couple lymph nodes out but it was still spreading." 

So while caring for a sick mother, his own family and working full time, he trudged on.

In 2017, the itch returned.

Stancato decided to pitch his idea yet again, this time as part of a contest to Start Up Lakewood, an organization which helps entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality. 

During the contest, he explained that the gym would be located in the basement of the Lakewood Baptist Church on Detroit Avenue. 

Several people didn't have high hopes. 

It Happened  

But, Stancato won. 

So, with Start Up Lakewood's help and his entire life's saving of $30,000, NOSTROS Rock Climbing Gym was officially born.

They began construction in the fall of 2017 with more than 200 volunteers who helped build the 14-foot tall climbing walls.

"People got us here," Stancato said. "This wouldn't have happened without them." 

NOSTROS Rock Climbing Gym had its grand opening on March 8, Stancato's 30th birthday.

But, unfortunately his mother won't be around to see him live out the dream. She passed away on April 9. 

"Even though she wasn't able to be here [grand opening], she was really happy to see that it occurred. It happened."

He credits both his mother and grandfather for helping him achieve his goals. 

"It was with their tough love that it happened," Stancato said.

501 (c)(3)

NOSOTROS is now the country's second non-profit rock climbing gym.

"We value people over profit." 

Stancato said their mission at the gym is build stronger relationships. They want families, coworkers, couples and friends to spend quality time together facing new heights. 

A portion of their proceeds will be used to help local families. They also have a book club, prayer wall and community service team. 

Advice For Others

It took Stancato seven years to open the gym of his dreams, and it was a long and winding road to get there.

His advice to others who are working to start their own company is to never give up no matter how many times you've been turned down. 

"Ask for help from people. Ask for help from people who've done what you've done," he said. "You kind of have to pull that heartstring. Remember when you were nothing, help a guy out who's currently a nothing." 

Click here for more information about NOSOTROS Rock Climbing Gym.

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