Dimples, grit, and one leg – and back on her Harley Fatboy. Cat Hammes’ website is OneLeggedBlonde.com, and when she delivers motivational speeches to groups, her opening words are, “When death throws you back.” It’s hard to say whether death did throw her back, or whether she kicked its butt back over the line. Cathryn Hammes says, “I might have lost my leg but I have gained my life!”
Doctors figured they’d lost her on May 20th of 2006. That was the date of the motorcycle crash that left Cat with skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, broken bones, a collapsed lung and the need to amputate her leg. That terrible accident was the first in a string of losses: while she was on medical leave, her job as an ICU nurse was terminated. Six months later, she was divorced, and half a year after that she lost her house.
The crash had done as much damage to her beloved Harley as it did to her body and mind. But her friends rebuilt her bike while she was in rehab, getting back the use of her body and faculties — and she was determined to get back on a cycle. She says she figured she could stay angry for the rest of her life or pick herself up, and the only way she knew to pick herself up was to ride that Fatboy again. During the months she spent in the hospital, restoring her body and resurrecting her courage, she met veterans who were dealing with losses far greater even than hers. Meanwhile, her friends were rebuilding her ride. One even painted the Harley pink, and the refurbished bike has a guardian angel painted on the back; as in, “Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly!”
Coming from a tough childhood and strong Southern stock had taught Cat that being a woman didn’t make her less, it just meant she had to work harder for what she wanted. Meeting veterans with losses even more staggering than hers gave her perspective and renewed her determination. Working with the artisan who built her a prosthetic leg gave her back the ability to walk — and her ability to ride her beloved Harley Davidson Fatboy again.
Now she Rides Above The Tombstone, inspiring others by paying forward what she received. Diamond Posse is a veteran Outreach group, and the rider who calls herself the One Legged Blonde rides in their rallies and fundraisers. When she pulls into VA Centers on her bike, Cat says she hears veterans respond, “If that little girl can ride that, I will walk again!”
Continuing her passion for paying it forward, this past year, Cat participated in the Sturgis Buffalo Chip® Biker Belles™ ride, helping to raise funds for at-risk and abused young women and for supporting motorcycle exhibits featuring the history of women in our sport. Her life is an inspiration and her story is one of those shared during the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s day of celebrating real women, real stories, and real fun. Please join Cat and the Biker Belles for the 2012 celebration by visiting www.bikerbelles.com or calling (605) 347-9000. 100% of riders contributions directly support the chosen charities.