Living With Attitude

The Boston Herald, Newspaper Article – Saturday August 4, 1984



SEATTLE – A 24-year-old physical therapist from Taunton yesterday became the first one legged woman to reach the top of Mount Rainier without the use of an artificial leg.

Sarah Doherty arrived at the top of the 14,410-foot peak at about 9 a.m. yesterday accompanied by four other climbers who helped her carry her gear up the mountain.

“She’s elated and doing fine,” said Dan McConnell, spokesman for the climb.

Doherty reached her goal on schedule, three days after she left the base of the mountain, McConnell said.

The Taunton native, who now lives in Seattle, used two specially designed crutches with dome-shaped bottoms for her climb.

An ice pick was attached to the right crutch to provide added traction.

Doherty was inspired to try the climb after hearing about the accomplishments of Don Bennett of Mercer Island, Wash., who became the first one-legged man to reach the mountain top without an artificial leg in 1982.

“He made the idea possible,” Doherty said in an earlier interview. “I decided if he could do it, I could try it.”

Bennett accompanied Doherty for the first few hours of her climb Wednesday.

Accompanying Doherty were four friends, Wade Harness and David Merz of Seattle and Gwain Oka and Darcy Burns of Spokane, Wash., who transported all her gear except for her daily essentials, which she carried in a small day pack.

Doherty lost her right leg and part of her pelvis in 1973 when she was hit by a car while riding her bike to a junior high school track meet. She went on to study occupational therapy at Boston University and moved to Seattle in 1983.

She is now an occupational therapist at the Veterans Administration Hospital.