The Press – Addison edition, Volume 6, Issue 49, June 18, 1993
When Addison resident Henry Hochstatter climbs Pike’s Peak on July 4, 1993, he won’t have any problem with the height.
Hochstatter, 38, has held the ultimate high-flyer’s job: working as a skyscraper window washer. He has washed high-rise windows in 48 states, all except in Alaska and Hawaii, he says.
“I know what it’s like to be out in the clouds, 80 stories up and 30 feet from a building with the wind blowing you”, he says.
Hochstatter also knows what it’s like to barely survive a car accident, and that’s the inspiration behind his Independence Day climb. He’ll be heading for the 14,110-foot summit as part of Walk Through the Clouds, the annual fundraiser for the National Head Injury Foundation.
Hochstatter was injured in an auto/semi-trailer accident at Addison Road and Lorraine Avenue in Addison in 1979. His close friend, who was driving was decapitated, and Hochstatter was left in a coma, not expected to survive.
Fourteen years and a barrage of physical, speech and occupational therapists later, he’s going strong. Despite scars and memory problems, Hochstatter maintains he’s better off than many head injury victims.
While undergoing therapy at Wheaton Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and Clinics, he met a woman who suffered a head injury after rolling her Jeep in
Arizona. A former model, she is now restricted to a wheelchair.
His mother is a brain-injury victim too, the result of a 1988 accident with a semi-trailer in Glen Ellyn.
“That’s why I’m walking” to Pike’s Peak, Hochstatter says. “I’m walking for all the people with head injuries”.
Hochstatter says anyone can fall victim to head injury. Even presidents aren’t immune.
“Abrahma Lincoln got one,” he says. “He got kicked by a mule, I believe. That’s why he used to sit by himself all the time.”
Hochstatter says he can’t remember the accident that led to his injury, or being at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital afterward. He came out of the coma on his 24th birthday in Marianjoy.
“I feel like I was born at Marianjoy,” he says. The intensive therapy he had to undergo, he says, was “like starting over again, from potty-training to walking and talking.”
Besides window-washing, Hochstatter has built race-car engines, worked for a junk-yard on North Avenue and trained polo ponies in Oak Brook. At the time of his accident, he was a journeyman carpenter.
“I was in good shape, otherwise I would not have survived,” he said.
His training regime for the climb consists of biking, pushups, situps, and hiking area streets with a backpack full of logs. Next week, he begins loading the pack with brick.
Marianjoy is also helping him prepare. “They have therapists working with me, timing me, checking my heart, checking my breathing making sure I’m not falling apart on them,” he said.
Once he reaches Colorado, he and the other hikers will take short daily walks to get used to the altitude.
Although he plans to travel light when he heads for the summit, carrying only about 40 pounds of gear, Hochstatter will have something special in his pack: a Bungee cord, perfect for his planned Bungee-jump off Pike’s Peak.
Hochstatter must raise a minimum of $1,500 in pledges to take part in the climb.
To make a donation to Hochstatter’s climb or to the National Head Injury Foundation, contact Henry W. Hochstatter, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org