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Hiking with a hero. Explore the trail that inspires gratitude.

Unique partnership helps paralyzed Vietnam Veteran return to cherished spot atop Lincoln Mountain Open Space

Posted on October 5, 2023 2023DC OutdoorsNews and Events



What’s your favorite Douglas County Open Space – and why? For retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Mark Maloney, it’s Lincoln Mountain Open Space, but not just for the stunning vistas and off-the-beaten-path trails. Once you hear Mark’s story, you’ll want to see for yourself.

Mark, a Vietnam Veteran, served his country with honor for decades. After retirement, he became an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast. He fell in love with the wide-open spaces of Douglas County, particularly Lincoln Mountain. The beauty and peace he felt there inspired him to design and place a stone bench, a monument, atop the Lincoln Mountain Loop. The bench served as a display of Mark’s gratitude for his own health and abilities and a way to honor those who weren’t physically able to traverse the trail themselves.

That bench took on a new meaning in 2020. A mountain biking accident left Mark paralyzed, learning a new way of life in his 80s. The accident was a hurdle, but one he faced head-on. As Mark says, life is like all those races he once ran, “what matters is that you finish strong.”

Mark’s unbreakable spirit inspired his caregivers to reach out to Douglas County Open Space and Luke 5 Adventures, a volunteer group that leads adaptive hikes for people living with disabilities. A plan and partnership formed. In late September, a volunteer caravan helped Mark return to his beloved Lincoln Mountain so that he could once again take in the view, have a seat on his bench and read the inscription, “Rest, enjoy, appreciate. You made it to this spot. Never forget those who cannot.”

Watch this video to see the full journey of Mark and his team. Then, seek your own inspiration while enjoying the trails at Lincoln Mountain Open Space and stop for a rest while enjoying the view from Mark’s bench atop the Lincoln Mountain Loop.

To learn more about the work of Luke 5 Adventures, including volunteer opportunities, please visit their webpage.

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