SportsAthlete of the Week


Former Marine Sgt. turned pro mountain climber

Losing her leg in a plane crash hasn't stopped Kirstie Ennis from reaching new heights
Posted at 11:05 PM, Jul 03, 2023

Disclaimer: This is sponsored content. All opinions and views are of Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group and does not reflect the same of KOAA.

From an early age, Kirstie Ennis knew she wanted to serve her country. She enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17 years old and soon became a door gunner, responsible for providing aerial security during missions.

Ten years ago in Afghanistan, her life was changed forever.

"On June 23, 2012 the helicopter that I was manning, we were just six weeks away from coming home, actually went down," Kirstie explained. "The way the helicopter ended up crashing was on the left side, and I was the left door gunner, as a result of that I sustained some very serious injuries."

Kirstie lost her left leg in that crash and had a long road to recovery ahead. A non-profit dedicated to helping injured veterans heard about Kirstie's story and wanted to help.

"Building Homes for Heroes has been a part of my life for a long time," Kirstie said. "I adore them so much because I'm a pain and I made it very difficult for them to do anything for me."

Founder of Building Homes for Heroes, Andy Pujol was apart of the search and rescue team on 9/11 and said on that day he made a promise to serve his country.

"I talked with my brother-in-law and we decided, we'll build one home for one veteran," Pujol said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd do one home every 11 days for the last 11 years."

In 2016, the team built Kirstie a beautiful home in the mountains of Glenwood Springs.

"I am still someone who still very much so deals with a lot of symptoms from PTSD and it gives me freedom just knowing I'm in an area and a home that's safe for me to be me," Kirstie said. "It also gives me the means to be able to be brave enough and strong enough to go forth and say that I can do anything."

Brave is an understatement, Kirstie recently made her second attempt to climb Mt. Everest. She decided to descend just 200 meters from the peak due to foul weather and her safety.

"It wasn't that she didn't succeed, she did succeed, she succeeded in life, in courage, in connectivity to millions and millions," Pujol said. "To me she's that once-in-a-lifetime inspiration, a superhero."

Life has thrown many curve balls at Kirstie, but she said she wouldn't change it.

"It's the six inches between our ears and what's behind our rib cage that dictates what we're capable of," Kirstie said. "I truly believe that if you keep your head and your heart in the right place, we can overcome anything."

Kirstie plans to attempt Mount Everest again next year.


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