Reggie Showers has a true passion for life. He’s a two-time world motorcycle drag racing champion, a pilot, a rock climber, and a certified snowboard instructor. He’s also a double amputee.
At age 14, Showers was playing on top of some boxcars in a railroad yard when he got too close to the wires used to power the trains. Thirteen thousand volts of electricity knocked him unconscious, and he suffered third degree burns. The muscles and tendons in his feet were so damaged that doctors were forced to amputate below his knees.
But that didn’t stop Showers. Just three months after the accident he showed up for school without crutches or a wheelchair, and five years after that he was embarking on his motorcycle drag racing career.
At first, Showers hid the fact that he was an amputee because he didn’t want any special attention, but after winning the Indianapolis U.S. Nationals in 2003 he removed one of his legs and waved it at the crowd.
“I needed to send a message out and show the world the power of the disabled,” Showers told CycleDrag.com. “I wanted people to know you can overcome any obstacle if you believe in yourself. I wanted to say, look at me. A double amputee just won the biggest motorcycle drag race of the year. ”
Shower’s hasn’t adapted his bike to accommodate his needs, but rather relies on special prosthetic feet made for him by Detroit-based College Park Industries. His “race legs” are light and flexible so he can reach the pegs easily.
College Park Industries’ original innovation, the Trustep foot, changed how the industry thought a prosthetic foot could function, and it’s since gone onto develop a wide range of prosthetic feet suited for diverse activities. The Trustep alone comes with over 400,000 viable combinations that allow the foot to be custom-built for each person.
Showers continues his pursuit of extreme sports today and travels across the country to help amputees, many of whom are children, overcome their disabilities.
This winter, Showers could be found on the Colorado ski slopes teaching disabled men and women—like war vet Travis Botkin who lost his right leg to an IED in Afghanistan—how to snowboard.
“I can’t really tell you why this [his amputations] never stopped me. It’s just this burning passion inside of me,” Showers says. “I grew up with a lot of mentors in my life, so I’m paying it forward. I like to give back. That’s me.”