Disabled veteran to walk in Bolder Boulder with assistance of special walker – The Denver Post

Mark Maloney was told he would never walk again. On Monday, not only will he walk, but he’ll trek the final kilometer — 1,000 feet or 0.62 miles — of the Bolder Boulder with the assistance of a special walker.

An 87-year-old Vietnam veteran, Maloney spent 22 years in the Army, serving in Vietnam and as a logistics specialist across the world. After his years in the Army, Maloney lived an active lifestyle.

“I climbed mountains and I ran many races over the years,” he said, including the Bolder Boulder, which Maloney has run four times.

Unfortunately, his active lifestyle came to a screeching halt in 2020 when he lost control of his bike while on a routine ride through the Garden of the Gods.

“The last thing I remember was seeing a huge boulder and I must have just hit that boulder at around 20 miles an hour with my face,” Maloney said of the accident.

Hesuffered a C3 spinal chord injury, classifying him as a quadriplegic. He also broke his neck and had to have 16 screws put in to repair it. His wife was told he likely wouldn’t survive the operation.

But Maloney did survive it, even though he was told he would likely never walk again. The accident changed the course of his life, but Maloney never lost hope.

“I’ve been working with Mark now for two years, and he’s a very motivated person,” said Brooke Hjeltnes, one of Maloney’s physical therapists.

Maloney has been working with Hjeltnes and other therapists at the VA Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury Unit in Aurora since his accident, and now after three years, he’s worked up the ability to walk a kilometer with the assistance of the LiteRun device.

The LiteRun is a special walker that uses negative air pressure to relieve the weight of the user’s body so they can walk with ease. The device was invented to improve mobility and increase quality of life in disabled patients who benefit from additional assistance.

“It’s incredible, it gets people who can’t walk or who think they can’t walk to see what they can really do,” Maloney said.

With the assistance of the LiteRun and his physical therapists, Maloney will walk the last kilometer of Monday’s event.

“I’m really hoping that me walking (in the Bolder Boulder) will make someone who was told they can’t walk think again,” Maloney said.

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