Austin Whitesides, a sophomore studying automotive engineering technology, commemorates the one-year mark in April of his tragic accident. He was laying down underneath a train car and the bar that was holding up the weight slipped. The bar came down and his leg got caught in the auger.

Whitesides said he was life flighted and was told they’d have to amputate from the hip, which is pretty rare

Whitesides now uses a prosthetic leg for mobility. He tells of life as a BYU-Idaho student and the lifestyle he now lives.

Q: What is it like to be a BYU-Idaho student with a physical disability?

To tell you the truth, there’s not much of a difference between having a disability and not being disabled at this school other than I get free parking now because of my handicap sticker. But other than that, I don’t have any special treatments from my teachers or anything like that. Most of them don’t actually know I’m missing a leg and are quite surprised when I have to go to some doctors appointment or something.

Q: What are some things you have been motivated to accomplish since the accident?

Since my accident, I’ve started a new company called Amputee and Co. I sell wristbands, stickers and stuff like that. I’m currently working on selling t-shirts and other merchandise. The money that I make from that business goes to the Challenged Athletes Foundation which is a foundation that builds sports prosthetics for those who can’t afford them. A sports prosthetic is anywhere between $20,000 to $40,000. They also send people from different places to different competitions, for instance, they are sending 12 people this year to the Paralympics. The way you can get involved with this is to go on Facebook and Instagram and follow and like Amputee and Co. Then when you buy the merchandise, the money will go to the people who really need it.

Q: What are some things you can still do with a prosthetic leg?

You can do just about everything you want if you put your mind to it. Being an amputee for me has really been a blessing in disguise because it’s given me a new outlook on life, a new way to try and do lots of things. I ride four-wheelers, motorcycles, snowboarding, wakeboarding, you name it, I’ll try and do it.

Q: What helped you the most to get used to this new lifestyle for you?

The biggest thing that helped me through all of it was the power of prayer. Its one thing to pray for someone, but to be prayed for is a whole other thing. You can feel a definite power coming from those who pray for you. I remember specifically right after I had been amputated, I didn’t know why but I had a very positive attitude about it. I came out of the surgery with a joke, and later on, I didn’t realize it but there were a ton of people who were praying for me to be healed. I believe that power was what lifted me up and kept me in high spirits, it kept me from being depressed.

Q: Looking back on it all, is there anything you would change and why?

 

There isn’t a thing I would change about it because you learn so much about yourself, what you can actually do and what you’re capable of. I would never change it for the world.