BRISTOL, Conn. -- A Marine Corps veteran who turned to outdoor sports and launched a nonprofit foundation after losing her leg in combat was honored with the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2019 ESPYS.
After surviving a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, Sgt. Kirstie Ennis underwent more than a dozen surgeries addressing trauma to her brain, spine and shoulder. When doctors decided to amputate her left leg above the knee, Ennis embraced outdoor activities as she recovered, walking 1,000 miles across Britain for a charity event and earning three gold medals in swimming at the Warrior Games. She's currently working to summit all seven of the world's highest peaks and said she "does more now on one leg than she ever even dreamed of doing on two."
Ennis also launched the Kirstie Ennis Foundation with the mission of "improving the quality of life of individuals and families" and providing "education, opportunity, and healing in the outdoors."
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"After being medically retired from the Marine Corps due to my injuries sustained overseas, I have dedicated my life to serving others in a different way. To receive the Pat Tillman Award and to be associated with a true American hero is a tremendous honor," Ennis said in a news release. "It has taken a village to get me to this point in my life, and I would not be where I am now without the amazing people surrounding me. To me, this is a symbol of community and what it means to pay it forward."
ESPN created the Pat Tillman Award for Service in 2014 to honor a service-oriented individual with strong ties to the athletic community. Past honorees include U.S. Navy Sgt. Jake Wood; Purple Heart recipient Israel Del Toro; U.S. Army Sgt. and Invictus Games gold medalist Elizabeth Marks; former Notre Dame basketball player, Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green; and U.S. Paralympic gold medal sled hockey player and Purple Heart recipient Josh Sweeney.
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The 2019 ESPYS will air on ABC Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
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Kirstie Ennis receives Pat Tillman Award for Service at 2019 ESPYS