WHO IS KIRSTIE ENNIS?
After joining the Marine Corps to serve others, Sergeant Ennis was injured when her helicopter crashed on her second deployment to Afghanistan and she was forced into medical retirement. After struggling through over 40 surgeries, including an amputation, she was in search of a way to be of service again.
In the early stages of her recovery, Kirstie relied heavily on outdoor therapy to get her life back. Thanks to her experiences Kirstie does more now on one leg, than she ever dreamed of doing on two.
In 2017, Kirstie committed to her Climbing for a Cause initiative - climbing the highest peak on each of the seven continents while raising funds and awareness for charity. Kirstie has turned the concept of "disabled athlete" on it's head, proving how capable she still is. While she continued to summit the tallest mountains in the world, Kirstie developed the goal to share outdoor recreational therapy with underserved communities and created The Kirstie Ennis Foundation. Kirstie started holding group and individual outdoor experiences and she found a new way to serve.
Kirstie wants to provide opportunity in the outdoors, and ultimately opportunity for the rest of peoples lives. The possibilities in the outdoors are endless.
"I never wanted people to ever feel the way I did- alone, lost in recovery. I wanted to give people hope, community, and a reason to show up. I wanted to teach people the sports that saved my life and actually give them the tools and resources to use them as therapy."
Don’t Set Predetermined Limitations for Yourself
Kirstie's 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.
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.
In September 2018, Kirstie summited Elbrus, (18,510ft the highest point in Europe), for the nonprofit Glam4Good.
Next was raising funds for Building Homes for Heroes with climbing Denali in Alaska, (20,322ft the tallest mountain in North America), but Kirstie was turned around 2,000ft from the summit, due to severe weather.
In February 2019, Kirstie summited Aconcagua, (22,838ft the tallest mountain in South America), in support of Merging Vets and Players.
May of 2019, Kirstie attempted Mt. Everest, (29,032ft the tallest mountain in the world), but chose to turn around at the South Summit, (600ft from the summit) for the health and safety of her team.
2021 started the redemption round with Kirstie completing her summit of Denali in May. She finished the year summiting Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, (16,050ft) in December, both 2021 climbs were in support of her 501(c)3 organization, The Kirstie Ennis Foundation.
In May of 2023, Kirstie had her second attempt at Everest, but made the decision to turn around at the South Summit (600ft from the summit) due to the overcrowding and lines of people on the mountain and in perservation of her safety and want to make it back home.
Kirstie will attempt Everest again to complete her Seven Summits-Climbing for a Cause expeditions, but recognizes that change in overall safety for climbers, handling overcrowding, and effort to protect the mountain's fragile ecosystem has to come first.
What people might not know about Ennis: she’s completed three Master’s degrees (Human Behavior, Business Administration and Public Administration) and recently completed her doctorate in Education.
Speaking of her reasons for joing the Marine Corps at 17, Kirstie 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.”
For speaking engagement inquiries visit-https://www.teamwass.com/speaker/kirstie-ennis/
Be Like Kirstie
- "Keep going after the big mountains."
"You have to be uncomfortable to grow."
- "Instead of looking at what I lost, I decided to focus on what I gained."
- "It is the six inches between your ears and what's behind your rib cage that controls what we're capable of. As long as you have your head and heart in the right place you can overcome anything."
Joined Marine Corps; Attached to units HMH 465, HMH 461, and HMH 362 as helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic
JANUARY - AUGUST 2011
Deployment to Afghanistan HMH 465/461
JANUARY - JUNE 2012
Deployment to Afghanistan HMH 362; combat meritoriously promoted to Sergeant; injured June 23, 2012
Earns Masters in Human Behavior
Begins competing in Paralympic boardercross and banked slalom (snowboarding)
Medically retired from Marine Corps
AUGUST - NOVEMBER 2015
Walks 1,000 miles throughout England, Scotland, and Wales in honor of 25 Marines who are no longer with us; also to raise awareness for British non-profit, Walking with the Wounded
Starts career in Hollywood as a stuntwoman; first feature Patriots Day with Mark Wahlberg
People Magazine honors Kirstie as Annual Body Image Hero
Summits Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft., highest point in Africa) while supporting non-profit, The Waterboys
ESPN Body Issue Cover
Summits Carstenzs (16,030 ft., highest point in Oceania) with non-profit The Heroes Project
Launches outdoor apparel (t-shirt line) HeadCase
Completes Everest Base Camp trek to collect logistics for summit attempt in 2019
Summits Iliniza Norte (16,818 ft, located in Ecuador), Attempts Cotopaxi (19,347 ft, Ecuador)
Attempts Denali (20,310 ft, highest point in North America) in support of non-profit Building Homes for Heroes