What do you do when something essential is taken away from you? Kevin Kraus, an active athlete, had everything taken from him in the form of a motorcycle accident that took his left leg. From there, he had two lives he could choose from: a life of self-pity and despair or a life of hope and optimism. He chose the latter and has come back with an amazing story.
Post by: Kevin Kraus
“On June 2, 2014, I was riding my motorcycle home from work when two cars collided in front of me. One of the cars spun into my lane. I hit it head on and flew 50 feet in the air. My left leg below my knee was shattered. I was rushed to the emergency room and had several emergency procedures. After five days and nine operations, the doctors told me they couldn’t save my leg, and it was amputated on June 7.
The day after my amputation, I looked down at my new body for the first time and had a powerful realization that this would be a defining moment in my life. I saw two paths ahead and knew I had to choose which one to take.
There would be no looking back, no regrets, no pity, no victims, and most importantly- no excuses.
The first path was one of self-pity and depression. Down this path, I would be a victim always wondering “why me”. I would rely on anger and frustration to shirk my way out of future challenges. The second path, however, was one of hope and optimism. Down this path, I would embrace this change with enthusiasm and view the accident as an opportunity to prove to myself that I could overcome anything. There would be no looking back, no regrets, no pity, no victims, and most importantly, no excuses.
I made a commitment in that moment to take the second path. My attitude, not my accident, would determine my reality. As I contemplated what that meant, I began picturing myself as an amputee doing the same things I loved doing before the accident. I saw myself crossing the finish line at a triathlon or competing in a CrossFit competition again, but this time with a prosthetic leg.
In that moment, I made the decision that I would compete in the Super Sprint version of the Herbalife Triathlon held on September 21, 2014, just 90 days from my last day in the hospital.
My recovery from the accident and training for the triathlon began at the same time. It wasn’t until about a month before the triathlon that I first got my prosthetic leg. At first, I could only take a few steps without the pain forcing me to stop, but I worked on it each day and got stronger and faster with each step. The day of the triathlon came, and I was filled with excitement not just for the race, but for what it represented to me. The race was challenging, but crossing the finish line was a symbolic victory that embodied my commitment to moving forward and living my life to the fullest.
The most challenging part of the triathlon was running. My normal prosthetic leg just couldn’t keep up with me. Each step was painful and difficult. It was then that I found Amputee Blade Runners (ABR).
ABR is a non-profit organization that helps provide free running prosthetics for amputees. I applied online, and a few weeks later my application was approved! Not only did they give me a free leg, but they also taught me how to use it and run… fast! Now that I have my running leg, there is no activity that I can’t do as well, or better than I did before my accident.
Today I am still living up to the commitment I made in the hospital. I am more active and appreciate my active lifestyle so much more now than I ever did before my accident because I know how close I came to not being here at all. I am driven to get the most out of life and to use my body to its full potential.
My mantra after the accident has been “Attitude is Everything”. My focus now is on spreading that message by turning my tragedy into a positive force in my life and the lives of those around me. I hope to teach others that life is a mental battle that can be won with two simple words: I can.”