Warrior Athletes

Kirstie Ennis, Paralympic snowboarder and climber/mountaineer

Kirstie Ennis was a sergeant in the Marines when she was injured when a helicopter went down in Afghanistan. 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 was forced into medical retirement. Ennis then turned to how she was going to continue serving people.  After recognizing non-profits who needed support raising awareness and fundraising, Kirstie decided to take action. The non-profits are ones that Kirstie proudly stands behind. In order to legitimize her efforts in fundraising and to fairly distribute the funds behind climbing, The Kirstie Ennis Foundation was incorporated.

In the early stages of her recovery, Kirstie relied heavily to get back to being who she really was. Thanks to the outdoors Kirstie does more now on one leg than she ever even dreamed of doing on two.  Kirstie wants to provide opportunity in the outdoors, and ultimately opportunity for the rest of people’s lives. The possibilities in the outdoors are endless.

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, summiting 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.

Additionally, Ennis is a motivational speaker, an entrepreneur and businesswoman, and recently earned her license as a real estate broker. 


Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals All-Star Pitcher Sean Doolittle and his wife Eireann Dolan have never shied away from standing up for what they believe in. Since both come from military families, veterans are a huge focus. They have participated in California’s Operation Finally Home, which builds homes for wounded veterans. They also support Swords to Ploughshares, an organization devoted to helping veterans with housing and employment. Doolittle’s father is a retired Air Force veteran, and another family member, the late Jimmy Doolittle led the famous bombing raid on Tokyo in 1942. Sean is also an active participant in the Nats on Base initiative — a program aimed at providing year-round experiences for service members and their families living in the greater Washington area. For example, a strong proponent of reading and particularly of championing young readers, Sean held a book reading of “Where the Wild Things Are” this summer for children from local military bases.


Elizabeth Marks, U.S. Paralympic Swimming

Elizabeth Marks is a paralympic swimmer for the United States.  In 2016, she won four gold medals at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida.  Elizabeth made her Paralympic debut at Rio 2016 where she set a world record of 1:28.13 on her way to gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke.  She also secured bronze in the 4×100 medley. Elizabeth has had to overcome major obstacles as a result of an injury to both her hips that occurred in 2010 when she was serving in Iraq. In 2012, the mobility in her legs was reduced and her lung capacity decreased as a result of an illness.  Not letting that get in her way, she continued to compete on the national level, and secured several wins at the U.S. Paralympic Swimming Spring National Championships and the Jimi Flowers Classic.


Herschel Walker, former football player and mental health advocate

White House Field Day Event with Presidential Fitness Council

Herschel Walker—Heisman trophy winner, professional athlete, businessman and author—is the national spokesman for the Patriot Support Program. Herschel has broken free from his own struggles related to mental illness and now provides emotional and motivational support to service members, veterans and military families by conducting public speaking engagements at military installations nationwide. Herschel’s message to service members and their families is simple: “There is no shame in getting help. I did.” At the University of Georgia, he set an NCAA freshman rushing record and helped capture the national collegiate football title. He earned consensus All-American honors three consecutive years, set 10 NCAA records, 15 Southeast Conference records, 30 Georgia all-time records and capped a sensational college career by earning the 1982 Heisman Trophy in his junior year. In 2002, he was voted into the Collegiate Football Hall of Fame and selected as the second greatest player in college football history. In 2008, Touchstone Hardcover Books published Herschel’s memoir, BREAKING FREE: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. After its release, Herschel became a spokesman for mental health and addiction treatment for service members. Since 2008, he has made more than 300 visits to military installations to share his story of hope with more than 300,000 troops.