Double amputee inspires troops with “Unthinkable” journey

Military Matters

The annual prayer breakfast at Fort Carson Thursday had soldiers counting their blessings. The members of the Mountain Post were hanging on every word of the invited guest speaker, Scott Rigsby. 

He’s not a soldier, but his journey resembles that of a warrior. 

As hundreds gathered at the Walter Reed Events Center, Rigsby stood up to share his incredible story. The Atlanta native chronicled his journey in a book, “Unthinkable.”

“So much is said to about following our dreams, but what happens when those dreams are dashed?” Rigsby asked the more than 200 on hand. 

He joked his dreams were to go to college and meet a pretty girl, and then another pretty girl. 

At the age of 18, his dreams were shattered. He was returning from a summer job of mowing lawns with his friends, seated in the back of a pickup truck. An 18-wheeler clipped the vehicle, dragging Rigsby 325 feet. He woke up in the hospital with serious injuries. 

He had his right leg amputated just below the knee. After 24 surgeries on his left leg, he had it amputated as well. Rigsby was now a double amputee–a reality he couldn’t initially accept.

Rigsby had depression and turned to alcohol until he realized he had to face his reality and his fears. 

“Fear is the biggest killer of our dreams,” he said. “Fear of the unknown is paralyzing.”

With state-of-the-art prosthetics, Rigsby turned to running. He then set a goal of running the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii. 

“Always having a plan is key,” Rigsby told the audience. “Not a day goes by when I’m not thinking about my goal. If something doesn’t align with it, I don’t do it.”

On October 13, 2007, Rigsby crossed the finish line of the 406-mile Ironman. 

“I looked at it as a platform to help others,” he said. “So often I could have quit, but I realized I was running for others. When you serve others, you can accomplish so much more.”

Rigsby has since run the Ironman another time, and plans to compete a third time before he stops competing altogether. In the meantime, he continues to travel the nation as a motivational speaker, hoping to inspire others who deserve it. 

If he touches one person’s life, he says, it makes it all worthwhile.

“You have to get out of your comfort zone,” he said. “You do that best by serving others.” 

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