Former RMU Standout Looks to Become a Paralympian
Camdin Crouse, a 24-year-old from Snow Shoe, Pa., has had a year unlike most. A year after losing his left leg below the knee, and just a few weeks after receiving a prosthetic one, he’s training for the 2016 Paralympics.
Crouse was a football player at Robert Morris University just a few years ago. He described his undergrad career as “amazing,” after playing as a 3-year letterman under former NFL coach Joe Walton. Walton taught him “a lot of football and a lot about being a man.”
Once he graduated, Crouse was hired as a grad assistant quarterbacks coach at RMU. This wasn’t exactly an easy transition. He was one of the younger guys, so he did a lot of internal work and was under constant pressure.
Then came May 3, 2012.
Camdin went out fishing with his best friend, Jimmy, in Moshannon, Pa. To get there, one can only walk or ride an ATV. They made their way to the “Rails to Trails” ATV course when a sudden rainstorm came in. While swerving to miss a falling tree, Camdin’s ATV hydroplaned and lost all control while he was tossed to the side.
Camdin’s first instinct was to make sure Jimmy was okay. Jimmy was fine, but visibly upset while shouting and pointing down at Camdin’s leg, which he then realized was “hanging by the flesh.”
Earlier that morning, Camdin’s father had given him a fishing vest, previously owned by his grandfather that passed away three years ago. Camdin removed everything inside the jacket except for a rope trout stringer which, ultimately, saved his life.
Jimmy ran over to Camdin and used the rope as a tourniquet, threw him onto the 4-wheeler, and, thankfully, found a truck on the side of the road with someone inside who was waiting for the rain to pass. Camdin had to wait an hour and a half before he was life-flighted. He ended up spending 27 days in the hospital with 16 surgeries and two amputations.
Soon after the accident, Camdin went on his own grassroots campaign to raise money for a prosthetic leg. It started out with a website that told his story and had an account to make donations. Throughout the summer of 2012, Camdin visited churches and community events to help spread the word. The State College Spikes and B94.5 heard about his story and put together a Home Run Derby that raised over $5,000. He was also invited to speak in front of 3,000 people at an event in Nashville to talk about his story. In addition, Camdin sold a line of t-shirts that had phrases like “Stronger Every Day” and “1nsp1re.”
PJ Mullen, Program Director of B94.5 and EAGLE 98.7 and Host of “The Morning Zoo,” was a big part of helping Camdin raise funds. “His good attitude, drive, and confidence that he was going to grow strong from the hand he had been dealt was like something out of a movie,” Mullen said.
Mullen took the time to get to know Camdin and his story. Camdin was featured on “The Morning Zoo” throughout the summer, and B94.5 was a big part in advertising for the Home Run Derby.
“We need to raise enough money for him to get to that level [the Paralympics] so that he can compete and be discovered . If he gets to that level it will be a better platform for him to tell his story and be the inspiring coach he has always been,” said Mullen.
A New Start
At the end of March 2013, Camdin was fit for his “new leg” in front of all different kinds of media. “Walking the first time was very painful and hard to do,” he said. “But at the end of the season I was walking without parallell bars and found out that walking with a new leg just took fitness.”
As an above-the-knee amputee, he says he has some restrictions but should be using his prosthetic daily by the end of May.
Soon after, Camdin was accepted to Penn State for the masters program in Counseling and Rehab. After joining the PSU Ability Athletics team to start training for the Paralympics, he said, “One day it just clicked…to help people with disabilities. Having been on the other side of counseling, I feel having been through a disability will help others feel inspired and comfortable enough to let me guide them.” He also commended his coach, Terri Jordan, for keeping him positive and motivated throughout his training.
Some would find it hard to keep themselves motivated after such a severe accident. This isn’t the case for Camdin, though.
“Honestly, waking up every morning and seeing my loss motivates me from the start until the end of the day. I take ownership of my loss and wear it on my shoulder with pride,” said Crouse.
He has recently become one of the strongest weightlifters at the Bellefonte YMCA, and he doesn’t plan on stopping there. At his most recent meet, he placed first in all five events and even qualified for nationals for javelin. He’s looking to raise $3,000 throughout the next month to compete here at Penn State, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Camdin plans on becoming a part of the US Paralympic team in 2016.
“In the end, it has only made me a better person,” he said.