Sarah Doherty

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Sarah Doherty
Born (1959-12-21) December 21, 1959 (age 54)
Taunton, Massachusetts
Residence Roberts Creek, British Columbia
Nationality Canadian/American
Occupation Owner of SideStix Ventures Inc.
Occupational Therapist

Sarah Doherty is an amputee mountaineer, ski racer, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur who lost her right leg to a drunk driver at age 13. She was a member of the inaugural U.S. National Disabled Ski Team[1] and was the first amputee to reach the summit of Mt. McKinley. She is also a pediatric occupational therapist.

Ski Racing[edit]

Six months after losing her leg, Doherty began learning how to ski on one leg using outrigger ski poles.[2] She began competing in regional ski races in the Mt. Sunapee area with the New England Handicapped Sportsman Association (NEHSA). Under the direction of her coach, Disabled Sports USA founder Kirk Bauer, Doherty was awarded the Ben Allen Cup as the NEHSA's most improved skier. She moved to Winter Park, Colorado in 1985 to pursue ski racing full-time. She was later selected as an alternate for the U.S. National Disabled Ski Team that first showcased adaptive skiing at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary.

Hiking & Mountaineering[edit]

Doherty began alpine hiking while working as an occupational therapist in Seattle, Washington. She soon branched out into mountaineering and in 1984 became the first one-legged woman to summit Mt. Rainier.[3] The following year, she became the first amputee to summit Mt. McKinley without a prosthetic limb.[4]

Adaptive Equipment Design[edit]

Doherty began working with adaptive crutch designs while preparing to climb Mt. McKinley. Her first crutch prototype was an aluminum-bodied forearm crutch with a polyurethane basket for the tip.[5] She used these crutches during the climb. She started designing a new model of forearm crutch soon after meeting her partner, structural engineer Kerith Perreur-Lloyd. They began making prototypes for a new crutch design, and after 5 years of development they formed a company to promote their new crutch called SideStix. Doherty field tested the crutches on the West Coast Trail in 2008 and Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2009.[6] In 2011, her company placed 2nd in the inaugural BCIC New Ventures Competition.[7] Doherty's company is based out of Roberts Creek, British Columbia.


  1. ^ "One-Legged Woman Aims for Mount McKinley". Associated Press. 
  2. ^ "Inspiration: The loss of a leg hasn't kept Sarah Doherty from a full life.". Spokane Chronicle. 
  3. ^ "Woman Amputee Successful on Mt. Rainier". Tri City Herald. Aug 1, 1984. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Gold, Todd. "A Courageous Climb Takes One-Legged Sarah Doherty to the Top of Mount McKinley". People Magazine. 
  5. ^ Kegel, Bernice (1992). Special Considerations: Adaptations for Sports and Recreation. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. pp. Ch. 24B. 
  6. ^ Larocque, Marc. "Taunton native designs adventure aids". Taunton Daily Gazette. 
  7. ^ "BCIC-New Ventures Competition: Regional awards startups $60K". Retrieved 30 July 2012. 

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