It’s Mandy Horvath’s birthday and the 23-year-old UCCS student is celebrating by climbing Pikes Peak. In April, she captured the nation’s attention by climbing the Manitou Incline. While thousands of people visit that attraction every year, no one has climbed quite the same way that Mandy did.
"I always said that I’m going to do it on my rear and my hands and nobody believed me, but I did that," Mandy said.
She’s a double amputee who lost both of her legs below the knee four years ago after being hit by a train. Mandy called today’s climb a Butt Scootin”’ Boogie Birthday Bash.
Mandy knew this trip would also attract publicity. So, she shared the limelight today with the charities Battle Buddies Foundation and Operation Ward 57. The Battle Buddies helps veterans to find service dogs, and Operation Ward 57 cares for sick and wounded soldiers and vets.
"I’m not allowed to technically to take sponsors, but I can take birthday gifts and donations," Mandy explained.
The directors of those two charities joined Mandy in Colorado Springs today to cheer her on. Each of them met Mandy through a mutual friend who is a triple amputee and combat veteran.
"She was really drawn to you know to all of those little things that happen when you’re in the hospital in recovery, like if you need a meal delivered or clothes," said Brittney Hamilton of Operation Ward 57.
Kenny Bass of the Battle Buddies Foundation said Mandy invited him and service dog Atlas to join the hike.
"I don’t think I could make half of what she’s planning on doing the next couple of days," he said.
Mandy arranged for everyone meet at the Pikes Peak Harley Davidson dealership before heading to Manitou Springs. Harley motorcycles have a special place in her heart.
"I’m from Kansas City and my parents have worked at the Kansas City Harley Davidson Manufacturing Plant for 20 years," Mandy explained.
That’s the plant that Harley announced it will close last month. Around 450 employees will be relocated to Pennsylvania and another 350 will be laid off.
"That’s our health care, that’s been an entire, my entire life," she said. "I wasn’t 5 years old wondering where mom and dad worked. But from then on, when I was cognizant and capable of understanding, it was always Harley."
Losing health insurance is the kind of set back that would convince many people to call off such an ambitious climb, but not Mandy. In her mind, helping people is just what you do, no matter the obstacles life puts in your way.
"If I can get more people outdoors and feeling capable of themselves, that’s awesome."
After scaling the incline today, she hopes to hike the remaining 3 miles to Barr Camp to spend the night. Mandy plans to reach the summit of Pikes Peak by Tuesday. She will share photos and video clips of her trip on social media and her website lifeproofbionicwoman.com.