SNOW SHOE - A month and a half ago, Camdin Crouse could never have imagined the twist his life would take in a few life-altering moments.
On May 3, he was in an all-terrain vehicle accident that would change his life forever.
He had come home to central Pennsylvania to do some college football recruiting for Robert Morris University, where he has coached for the past three years, and also to help his mom, who recently had double back fusion surgery.
Camdin Crouse works out, rebuilding his strength after losing his leg in an ATV accident.
On that fateful day, he and a buddy, Jimmy Brooks, decided to go fishing. He asked his dad if he could use his fishing pack; he told Camdin to use his grandfather's fishing vest. His grandfather had passed away.
Camdin stumbled across a trout stringer, his grandpa's, in the pocket. It was the sort one wouldn't use now, he said, but he decided to keep it in the pocket to remind him of his grandfather.
They went to the Snow Shoe Rails to Trails path and enjoyed fishing. When the sun began its descent across the sky, they decided to pack up and head for home.
As it started to rain, they got on the ATV and rode for home. They'd gone a little over half a mile when they came across a fallen tree branch. He saw it in time to swerve around it, but when he accelerated again, they hydroplaned.
"I told my buddy, 'Hold on,' as we slid into a bank," Camdin said. His cell phone flew off. "It happened so quickly. I thought I was OK, and I asked him how he was. When he came running up, he started screaming."
Camdin's left foot and ankle "were about a foot to the left from where they should've been," he described.
And his tibia had pierced through the skin of his left leg.
He needed a tourniquet. He immediately thought of his grandpa's stringer in his vest pocket.
Jimmy, who had military experience, quickly fashioned the makeshift tourniquet around his leg.
Now they needed the ATV to work. Incredibly, it turned on, and they drove 10 mph down the trail. Soon, they saw a man who had a pick-up truck, and he hoisted Camdin into the truck bed and drove them to Jimmy's house.
As they drove, it continued to rain, and he was getting wet, the rain mixing with his blood.
"I was freaking out, saying, 'I don't want to die.' I wanted to close my eyes, but Jimmy kept telling me, 'No, don't close your eyes.'"
When they got to Jimmy's house, they called the ambulance. A long 25 minutes later, the ambulance arrived.
They determined he needed to be life-flighted. "That's when I really started freaking out," Camdin said.
The paramedics told him he'd live.
They met the helicopter off of the Snow Shoe exit. From the time of the accident until the time he was treated, an hour and 15 minutes had passed.
He spent one night in the Altoona hospital, and the next day was life-flighted to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
The first day, the doctors worked to save his life.
But it soon became apparent they could not save his left leg.
On May 14, they performed a below-the-knee amputation, but one week later, on his 24th birthday, he went into septic shock.
"I almost lost my life again," he said.
Because of the infection, they performed another amputation on May 23, this time, above the knee.
Over the course of 27 days, he would have 14 surgeries, need over 20 units of blood, and lose 50 pounds.
"I was a 6-foot, 210-pound guy, and now, I look like a stranger," Camdin said.
The days seemed to inch by. "Day to day I wanted to get the hell out of there.I was just tired of not having freedom, tired of laying there," he said.
The day finally came when he was to be discharged.
"May 30 was one of the happiest days of my life. They looked at my stump, and said, 'You can go home.'"
The transition to everyday life has been difficult at times, but his support network of friends and family is strong.
He has been the quarterbacks coach at Robert Morris University for three years and played quarterback for the university's Colonials from 2006 to 2009.
But he'll need a prosthetic C-Leg, which has a knee, to help him continue coaching.
Camdin will soon be fitted for a temporary prosthetic leg, and in nine to 12 months, he'll get fitted for the C-Leg. The cost for the C-Leg is $60,000, and insurance will cover $5,000.
To help with medical bills, two of his mom's friends started a website, www.helpcamdin.com, and they soon had thousands of dollars in donations.
With the help of an anonymous donor who matched the $49,000 they raised, they have raised approximately $100,000.
Robert Morris coach Joe Walton also raised $10,000 to help Camdin with his new leg.
With the donations pouring in, Camdin can afford the prosthetic legs. Once his medical bills are paid off, he said, he wants to direct the overflow and continuing donations to his new foundation, the Camdin Crouse Foundation.
"I want to help others, people who are going through the same thing, but are not fortunate enough to have the (money come in) like I have," he said.
He's also started his own clothing line at www.inspire11.com. He'd like to eventually direct a percentage of his sales to other nonprofits, such as www.forthesakeofone.org, which fights child sex trafficking, he said.
He's taken a positive outlook on his accident, and another way he wants to transform his experience into one that can help others is by inspirational speaking.
His first speaking engagement was last week for the Phillipsburg Kiwanis chapter.
Saturday night, June 16, the Pittsburgh Power Football team honored him at the Consol Energy Center's arena.
"I'll get to hang out with Lynn Swann (an American former professional football player)," Camdin said before he went on Saturday.
And on July 18, Camdin will speak to 2,000 people at the Nashville, Tenn. Miche Bag event.
By then, he wants to be walking.
"My plan is to walk across the stage at Nashville," he said.
Still, some days are harder than others.
"There are down days, there are dark days. I want to push others, but it's hard for me sometimes," he shared.
He pushes through those feelings and does what every day requires.
"I'm learning how to maneuver; I have a walker, crutches, a wheelchair. I get better every day. You learn how to go down steps. The pain gets better every day, and the swelling," he said.
He also looks at all the positives that lined up that saved his life.
"If the four-wheeler wouldn't have started, I wouldn't be here. Same with the fishing line," he said.
He refuses to let his situation be debilitating. He's finishing his master's degree in sports management and leadership. His undergraduate work was in business and sports management.
"I'm taking the last two classes for my masters as we speak," he said.
His advice for others who feel discouraged?
"I encourage people to be strong every day, even when they feel negative. It's their own brain that makes them feel negative-they must move forward. We have to think positive," he said.
And one last thing:
"Go Colonials!" he exclaimed.
If you'd like to make a donation to The Camdin Crouse Foundation to help Camdin and others like him, go to www.helpcamdin.com.
See Camdin's new clothing line at www.inspire11.com.