COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — To mark her 25th birthday, a college student and full-time chef plans to do some climbing.
In April, Mandy Horvath became the first female double-amputee to finish the Manitou Incline, lifting herself up the 2,744 steps on her hands.
On Sunday, she plans to do it again, and then attempt to climb all the way to the top of Pikes Peak.
“Whenever I had first lost my legs I was curious if I was ever gonna be able to have a relationship again or dance again or drive again,” Horvath said. “It was a very depressing time for me, until I realized that I can still do these things, just a little differently.”
On July 26, 2014, Horvath’s legs were severed by a train in Steele City, Neb.
“The only thing in Steele City, Nebraska is a post office, a little bar and train tracks,” she recalls. “I had two beers and two shots. My blood-alcohol content reflected that and so did my bar tab. And I stepped outside and woke up in an ambulance.”
Based on the past of one of the people she was with that night, Horvath suspects she was incapacitated by a date rape drug.
“It’s something that happens more frequently than people talk about,” she said. “I’ve had women all across the world message me and say thank you. Thank you for talking about it.”
Horvath was hospitalized at Bryan West Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb. for the better part of two years.
She moved to Colorado Springs in January 2016 and enrolled at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
Video of Horvath climbing the Manitou Incline received a great deal of attention on social media once she posted it to her Instagram account, which is appropriately called "life proof bionic woman."
Its #limblossawarenessmonth and I wanted to share something incredible I did yesterday. I did the pikes peak incline on my hands and rear. The incline is 2,744 steps of railroad ties and this wasn't even the steep part. The incline gains 2,000 feet in elevation in less than a mile and peaks at 8,590 ft. To my knowledge, I am the first female double amputee to reach the top. I'm so thankful for my life and the ability to display that absolutely anything is possible. Making 2 separate posts because the pictures are just too good! #incline #manitouincline #amputee #ican #goals #willtolive #awareness #guinessrecord #womenofpower #powerful #anythingispossible
A post shared by Mandy Horvath (@lifeproofbionicwoman) on
“I was most surprised with the support that I got from the community,” she said. “I was really worried that people were gonna laugh at me or point, or try to take pictures and just make fun of me. And I got the exact opposite."
Horvath hopes to use her notoriety to advocate for veterans and other amputees.
“I do stuff like this because I found that the veteran community is very similar to the limb loss community and the challenges we face in anxiety, depression, PTSD and overall, just quality of life,” she said. “These are things that we all struggle with together.”
The attempt to summit Pikes Peak will also be a fundraiser to benefit the Battle Buddle Foundation and Operation Ward 57.
Horvath’s family, friends and crew will meet at Pikes Peak Harley Davidson at 9 a.m. Sunday. The plan is to head over to the Incline by 11:30 a.m., followed by a climb up to Barr Camp where Horvath and her crew will spend the night.
She hopes to summit the mountain within the following day or two.
“I have to be cognizant of my body and not really stress or wear myself out,” she said. “And doing the entire 14er in a day is not feasible for my situation. I’ll have to worry about a lot of loose rocks and [the] placement of my body specifically, whereas on the railroad ties you just go up another step.”
One crew member will take her prosthetic legs, just so she can say that she stood at the top of the mountain.
“I’m definitely sure I’ll end up doing more mountains,” she said.
The REI store in Colorado Springs has donated most of the gear Horvath will need for her climb up Pikes Peak.
More details about Horvath’s climb can be found online: https://www.lifeproofbionicwoman.com.