Meet Craig Towler: Amputee and Accessibility Advocate
My name is Craig Towler, and I am a bilateral amputee. On July 4th, 2016 I was struck by an impaired driver which resulted in the amputation of both of my legs. It’s funny how things can change so quickly.
I remember the day like it was yesterday because I was having such a great day up until the accident. I am an event coordinator/timing specialist for BBSC Endurance Sports and every year we put on a race at the Boulder Reservoir on the morning of July 4th. This has always been one of my favorite races, and this year was especially exciting because it was the first race I was working as the timer. Timing races is a very complicated and in-depth process and I was excited because I killed it! After the event, I made it home to unload my vehicle and had plans to go celebrate the Fourth of July with friends and watch fireworks. Just as I was about to finish unloading, I was standing behind the tailgate of my SUV and felt an impact that pushed me into the back of my vehicle. Before I knew what had happened, I looked down and saw both of my legs detached. I was in tremendous shock at the time, but I remember everything very vividly. I immediately knew that my life was in danger, and action had to be taken immediately in order to survive.
Shortly after the impact, people who were nearby at the time came to my assistance and called for an ambulance. I instructed them to help me lay flat on the ground. Once I was on the ground, I could see the amount of blood that I was losing, and I was losing it very quickly. I instructed the people around me to remove their belts and secure them as tightly as possible to my upper legs above the injury to work as a makeshift tourniquet. (I later learned from the doctors that the tourniquets had stayed on my legs until I entered surgery hours later and are the reason that I am alive today.) I was airlifted from the local hospital to another hospital with a more advanced trauma unit, where I underwent 5 surgeries throughout the course of a week involving the amputation of both of my legs – one below the knee, and the other through the knee. Skin grafts were also taken from both of my upper legs to close the wounds. I was in intensive care for over a week.
This, however, is only a small part of my story and one that I will not allow to define me.
This experience may have changed me physically, but my core values and life goals have not changed. I have always considered myself a very positive and motivating person. I am lucky to be alive today, so every second that I am here is a blessing, and I will use my life experiences to spread positivity, and hopefully help motivate people to value the time we have.
There are things in life that can be taken from you or that are beyond your control, and there are things in life that no one can take from you. I will not allow anyone or anything to affect how I see good in the world and the people around me, or my attitude when I wake up in the morning. Every day I learn how little control we have over the external things in our life. This may seem overwhelming and scary, but once you truly let go of trying to control them, it becomes freeing. Only when you truly let go can you begin to experience life. There are very few things in life that we have 100% control over, but our outlook on life and how we want to use the precious time that we have here is one thing that we do. No matter what emotion you are feeling inside, time is always moving forward, so you can either choose to spend that time on negative emotions such as pain and anger or you can spend that time being productive. No matter what obstacles, setbacks, or tragedies we may face every day, we can control how much time, energy, and effort we put forth into making positive changes for ourselves, and for those around us.
It would be untrue to say that I have not been changed by this experience. The fact of the matter is that no matter how positive my outlook is, and how motivated I am to succeed this experience has changed me for the rest of my life. I will forever have obstacles and challenges, but I won’t let them hinder me.
I now have a unique opportunity and powerful platform to spread change by sharing my experiences. Victims advocacy is an opportunity to help voice the needs of a marginalized community. Platforms are needed to highlight and provide access to resources that are not readily available in our communities. The need is there, now let’s work together to create solutions and improve quality of life for all. I’ve been working on two projects over the past year designed with the intention to highlight needs in our community and create solutions for the people in need.
The first one is Amputee Concierge. An online victim’s advocacy platform geared towards helping answer questions a new amputee or family member may have and providing direction to resources.
The second is Accessible Boulder. A mapping system of cities from a mobility standpoint designed to give people with mobility needs the confidence to get out into their community and expand their comfort zones.
About Accessible Boulder
Accessible Boulder is an opportunity for us to share detailed reviews of local business, parks, walking paths etc. from an accessible standpoint and share this with the community. This added information will help us build confidence and create a support system helping people with increased mobility needs feel more comfortable when experiencing their community, and more importantly returning a little normalcy to their lives.
Our mission is to reassess our cities’ accessibility standards and go above and beyond the required ADA compliance. We feel that there is a need to provide more a detailed experience of our community from a mobility standpoint. We are working to create a community of inclusion for people of all mobility needs designed to bring people together and experience this amazing place we call home.
What does the future of Accessible Boulder look like?
We’re in the first phase of a constantly evolving project which will be designed to spread to other regions and cities. This first phase is a testing ground to develop a very efficient replicable model to which we can present to other progressive and forward-thinking communities so that they can begin to gather information about their areas to be added to our database and presented in an organized form for all to gain value from. Our vision is to have a 100% crowd sourced product in the end which is constantly evolving every day from user engagement. We believe that this is the only way to scale a project of this size with efficiency.
The only variable is consistency of data, but we’re working hard to create a unique data gathering system with specific criteria to help make the crowdsourced data coming in as accurate as possible so that the information can be trusted by the user. We’re still working on this through testing and good old fashion trial and error. We believe that it is essential to have a good solid foundation before any type of expansion can be achieved or even attempted.
Every day I begin to understand the need to give back a little more and I feel a sense of urgency to voice the importance of communicating our needs while still spreading a positivity within our communities.
It is possible to critique a system in need of change in a positive way, but this is only done through open and understanding communication.
Let’s work together to build a world we want to live in, and this starts within our own communities.
To learn more about Accessible Boulder, Amputee Concierge, or to connect with Craig – check out: https://www.craigtowler.com/