Kirk Bauer answered the door to his home on Frederick Road covered in debris and soaked in sweat, signs of the hard work he had put into remodeling his kitchen Wednesday afternoon.

Walking with a limp as he showed off his work, he joked about playing hooky from his day job.

No one could blame the 64-year-old Bauer if he did take a break from his job as executive director of Disabled Sports USA.

Last month, he took on what he called "the most challenging thing he'd ever done physically."


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Bauer, who lost his left leg 43 years ago, and four other disabled veterans attempted to climb Alaska's Mount McKinley, which at 20,320 feet is the tallest mountain in North America.

Three of the veterans had lost one or both their legs. The fourth climber had severe muscle damage to his legs.

"We didn't know if we could do it, but we were willing to try," said Bauer, who moved to Catonsville from Ellicott City two years ago.

Though they conquered slopes of 35 and 40 degrees while dragging sleds of equipment, fierce winds reaching 70 mph prevented them from reaching the summit.

"They would literally blow you off the mountain," Bauer said of the dangerous gusts.

The group spent nine days at a camp at 14,000 feet waiting for the weather to calm, but it never did.

They peaked at an altitude of 15,500 feet, then turned back.

Though the quest was not completed, Bauer appreciated the natural beauty of the area, he said.

"I've never seen anything more majestic," he said, recalling views of snowy peaks, valleys and the tundra.

Bauer will speak about the journey at 7 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the Rolling Road Golf Club.

Those who attend are asked to make a $5 donation to Disabled Sports USA in lieu of purchasing tickets.

Disabled Sports USA is a Rockville-based nonprofit established in 1967 by disabled Vietnam veterans to serve others injured in the war, according to its website.

The organization now offers sports rehabilitation programs to anyone with a disability nationwide.

Living in a slow-motion world

If anyone is proof that the journey, not the destination, makes the man, it's Bauer.

"Sports is what got me out of the house and back on the road to recovery," he said.