Kirstie Ennis Biography
Kirstie Ennis is a former US Marine Corps sergeant turned amputee snowboarder and rock-climber and marathoner and a whole lot of other things, suffered life-changing injuries in Afghanistan.
Kirstie Ennis Age
Kirstie’s date of birth is not well known to us although it is stated in the paralympic.org’s page that she is 28 years old.
Kirstie Ennis Husband/ Kirstie Ennis Married
We will update her marital status as soon as we get the information.
Kirstie Ennis Story
Kirstie Ennis’s story may have begun when she lost her leg after her helicopter went down in Afghanistan, but it certainly doesn’t end there. After more than 40 surgeries and the amputation of her leg first below and then above the knee after a life-threatening infection, the former Marine sergeant has accomplished more at 28 years old than most people have achieved in their lifetimes.
Ennis’ story has been well-documented. She allowed cameras into the hospital to film her amputation ordeal for an inspired short film produced by Cosmopolitan magazine. She was featured on the cover ESPN magazine for the “Body” issue. Photos of Prince Harry embracing Ennis after she completed the 1,000-mile walk across England, Wales and Scotland for the British non-profit Walking for the Wounded appeared in People magazine and she was later honored by the magazine as their “Annual Body Image Hero” in 2016.
Ennis has turned the concept of “disabled athlete” on its head, proving how capable she still is, whether it’s on one leg or two. She competed in boardercross and banked slalom as a Paralympic snowboarder and then ventured into mountaineering, summitting Mt Kilimanjaro (at 19,341-feet it’s the highest point in Africa) to support the non-profit The Waterboys; then successfully climbed Carstenzs, the highest point in Oceania, for The Heroes Project; and then conquered Iliniza Norte, a 16,818-foot peak in Ecuador. She has attempted Cotopaxi, the highest peak in Ecuador, got turned around by weather on Denali, and made it to the South Summit of Everest. She hopes to complete the Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent by 2021.
What people might not know about Ennis: she’s completed three Master’s degrees (Human Behavior, Business Administration and Public Administration) and is currently working to complete her doctorate in Education. She worked as a stuntwoman on “Patriots Day” starring Mark Wahlberg in 2016. She’s a motivational speaker and appeared on stage at Madison Square Garden in 2015 during the New York Comedy Arts Festival for the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s 9th Annual Stand Up for Heroes Event. She’s an entrepreneur and businesswoman who launched a t-shirt apparel company, HeadCase, and opened her first business, the Chapter One Hair and Body Lab in Oceanside, California in 2017. She recently earned her license as a real estate broker for Engel & Volkers in Aspen, Colorado.
Ennis joined the Marines when she was only 17 years old and enlisted as an aircraft mechanic, inspired by her parents who were both Marines. “I idolized what they were doing. I have always wanted to serve and to help others who can’t protect themselves,” she says. “I wanted to give my parents a reason to be proud of me.” She chose to become an aircraft mechanic because she didn’t know the first thing about airplanes. “I went to the recruiter’s office and told them I wanted it to be hard. I wanted to be challenged physically and intellectually,” she says. After everything she’s been through, that hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s inspired her to push even harder, not only for herself but to inspire others. “I’m extremely proud of everything I did in the military and I’d do it all over again if I could,” she told Cosmopolitan. “That’s what I signed up for. I would lay my life down for the men and women that stood alongside me. At the end of the day I’m thankful it happened to me and no one else.”
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Kirstie Ennis Everest
On May 15 a windburned Kirstie Ennis hauled herself up to Everest’s “death zone,” the final 200 meters leading up to the peak where the air is so thin humans can’t breathe without the help of an oxygen tank. She also did it while wearing a prosthetic leg, a sharp-toothed crampon digging into the snow where her left foot should be.
Nearly seven years earlier, on June 23, 2012, Ennis was completing a very different mission. While serving her second tour with the United States Marine Corps in Afghanistan, blond hair pulled back into a low bun, the 21-year-old door gunner climbed into the CH-53D helicopter for a routine resupply. “There was nothing that was supposed to be super special about it—we had flown routine missions like that all the time,” Ennis says. This one didn’t go according to plan. “The last thing I remember is looking out the left window with my night-vision goggles down and just watching the ground come toward the helicopter,” she says. “Next thing you know, everything went black.”
Ennis’s injuries were extensive: She was missing part of her jaw and suffered damage to her spinal cord; her entire body was riddled with burns and broken bones. Surviving the crash seemed simple compared with the dozens of surgeries—including the eventual amputation of her left leg—and years of recovery that lay ahead. The damage wasn’t just physical. The helicopter’s plummet shook Ennis violently, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury that affected her speech and comprehension for months. “A lot of people think that the physical injuries, the things that they can see, were the hardest parts of it, but that’s not the case,” she says. “Dealing with 44 surgeries and having to do speech therapy and cognitive therapy—it’s just this ongoing process of an uphill battle. I wanted to give up.”
One day, a year to the day after the crash, “I decided that I didn’t want to do life anymore,” Ennis says. “Fortunately I was surrounded by some really good friends who got me into the hospital.” When she woke up, her dad was there with some tough love. “He said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. The enemy couldn’t kill you; now you’re going to do it for him?’ That’s when the light bulb went off,” Ennis says. “Yeah, I was broken and damaged and I had a lot of work to do. But even though I was broken, I was still here. I was still alive.”
Kirstie Ennis 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Kirstie Ennis is the 2019 recipient of the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPY Awards. The ESPYs is an event to raise money for cancer research and to honor achievements in sports from the past year. Tillman actually put his NFL career on hold to serve his country, according to People, but was tragically killed in Afghanistan in April 2004. After his death, his wife, family, and friends put together a foundation in his name. The Pat Tillman Award was created five years ago and Tillman’s wife, Marie, gave a statement to People about Ennis receiving the honor. Marie stated, “Pat lived his life with passion and conviction, driving forward in the face of any obstacle that crossed his path. I see that same drive and courage in Kirstie as she continues to push the limits and achieve her best. We are proud to present the Tillman Award to Sgt. Kirstie Ennis for her service and leadership.”
Read on for background on Ennis, why she has been honored at the 2019 ESPYs, her struggles, and her journey to inspire others in our facts below.
1. Ennis Survived a Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan
People reported that when Ennis was just 17 years old, with the support of her parents, she enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. In June 2012, after a mosque was overthrown in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, Ennis’ life changed forever. Her helicopter was set to resupply ammunition, transport soldiers and help those in need at the mosque, but the helicopter began to go “nose up”. Ennis recalled, “When they say crash is imminent, you just let go of your machine gun, take a step back and wait. That’s all you can do at that point.”
Fortunately, Ennis survived but she had a long road to recovery and part of her leg ended up amputated. She also underwent 38 surgeries as a result of her injuries. Ennis was lucky to have her family help her through that difficult time.
In a post on her Instagram account, Ennis wrote about the support and tough love from her mother when she was healing from the crash. Ennis stated, “My mom used to look at me sitting in my wheelchair and say, ‘do it your damn self.’ Thanks for being a boss through everything, mom. You’ve been my biggest fan and harshest critic. You’re one of the three reasons I made it to where I am. Love you.”
2. She Tried to Commit Suicide
In a video package for the 2019 ESPYs, Ennis revealed that on the first anniversary of her helicopter crash, in June 2013, she tried to kill herself. She said that she woke up to her father saying that our nation’s enemies didn’t succeed in killing her but she was going to finish the job for them.
Ennis comes from a family filled with Marines, so she followed in their footsteps. In a heartfelt Instagram post, Ennis talked about what it means to her to have a family dedicated to serving their country. Ennis wrote, “I’m one of the lucky ones who was raised by Marine parents. But I was also inspired by my Great Aunt Lydia, one of the first female active-duty Marines during WWII. She’s still alive and kicking at 96 … just a family who bleeds green.”
Reflecting on a time that was so difficult for her to get through, Ennis recently wrote on Instagram, “Even though June is a month full of so much love, for years it has been the one I struggle with the most. June 23 is my alive day and without fail, the closer it gets, I make things harder on myself and the people I care about. Thank you to the friends and family who continue to stick it out and put a smile on my face. If you’re dealing with something similar, know you’re not alone. We will grin and bear it together.”
3. Ennis Attempted to Climb Mount Everest
In May 2019, Ennis attempted to climb Mount Everest so that she could be the first female above-the-knee amputee to summit all seven of the world’s highest peaks. Unfortunately, she fell just short of accomplishing the goal. At just 200 meters from the finish line, Ennis and her team had to turn back, as they were running low on oxygen.
During an interview with People, Ennis laughed, “I tried. There’s no summit that’s worth somebody’s life. When I looked down onto my climbing partners’ faces, it wasn’t [worth it]. Going back down is worth it … It gutted me, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I had worked so hard – physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. I had spent so much money to get to that point.”
She continued, “My heart went into the bottom of my very fake left leg – but we did the right thing and I’m proud of that. I saw the summit and tasted the air. But peoples’ lives matter and I never, ever turn my back on that. We came home safe and we came home happy.”
Ennis previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and created a project called “Climbing for a Cause”.
4. Kirstie Ennis Has Her Own Foundation
Ennis founded theKirstie Ennis Foundation to help non-profit organizations across the globe, according to Good Morning America. The mission of the foundation states that, “The Kirstie Ennis Foundation is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization founded to financially support deserving organizations that are dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families. We strive to provide education, opportunity, and healing in the outdoors.” And, one of the mantras of the foundation says, “The reason for the non-profit is to distribute funds evenly – for example Everest being a big, sexy mountain will raise the most funds, isn’t fair to other non-profits to be dedicated to smaller mountains.”
Ennis’ “Climbing for a Cause” initiative is a part of her foundation and there are four tiers of sponsors. If you’d like to be a supporter, the packages include the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The Bronze is only $2,500, the Silver is $5,000, the Gold is $10,000, and the Platinum is $20,000.
For those who would like to donate to the foundation, there are multiple ways to do so. The foundation accepts donations via snail mail, as well as Paypal.
5. Ennis Participated In One of Prince Harry’s Charities
According to People, Ennis caught the attention of Prince Harry when she participated in one of his charities in 2015 – Walking with the Wounded. The Walking with the Wounded’s Walk of Britain charity was a 1,000-mile trek across the England, Scotland, and Wales, alongside other veterans. This was carried out on behalf of the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
Prince Harry called the walk a challenge that was “formidable in scale”, according to Telegraph, and talked about why it’s important – It helps wounded veterans find jobs. When talking about the launch of the Walk of Britain, Prince Harry said, “Whether someone is leaving the services after 20 years or just a year, or experienced a life-changing injury or not, they are all in need of the same thing: a job. Employment is the key to ensuring their independence and long-term security.”
Prince Harry also previously said that he had hoped the Walk of Britain would remind people about “the determination and resolve of those who have served, and in particular those who have been injured or suffer hidden wounds”.