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A Heroic Accomplishment

By Kelly J. Hayes

Photo by Jeremy Freeman/CNN

04.22.19

Amanda Boxtel’s drive to help people walk again launched her into the national spotlight.

Every community has a local hero. But Aspen’s went global this December. Amanda Boxtel was honored as one of 10 CNN Heroes for her work as founder of the valley-based Bridging Bionics Foundation in an internationally televised ceremony from New York’s Museum of Natural History.
 
When she walked across the stage in her bionic exoskeleton (Boxtel was paralyzed in a 1992 skiing accident), the audience rose as one in admiration of her spirit and strength. “I loved every step,” she recalled about one of television’s most moving moments of 2018. “Walking across the stage in a bionic exoskeleton was a nerve-wracking, life-infusing pinnacle moment, and I felt so proud and tall in spirit sitting alongside the other top 10 CNN Heroes, each deserving and winners in their own right.”

Founded in 2013, Bridging Bionics is dedicated to giving the gift of mobility to clients with neurological challenges and bridges a path toward neuro-recovery. It was a bionic exoskeleton suit that helped Boxtel walk after 18 years of paralysis. The nonprofit, which is funded by donations and grants (over $100,000 was donated during the CNN Heroes outreach) operates out of the Snowmass Club and Midland Fitness in Glenwood Springs. There, a team of trained therapists work with clients offering unprecedented access to the most cutting-edge exoskeleton and mobility technology. These services are often free for clients, depending upon their financial circumstances.

For Boxtel, the CNN recognition is just another step in her journey. “I envision making advanced technologies and healing therapies accessible and affordable to as many individuals who have a neurological condition as possible,” she says. “We hope to expand our outreach to Grand Junction with a pilot program and potential satellite facility.” Heroic, indeed.