Chad Crittenden is the first amputee to compete on the CBS reality television show “Survivor.”
‘Survivor’s’ first amputee contestant to speak on ‘Diverse Minds, Bodies and Spirits’ here Dec. 4
Chad Crittenden, the first amputee to compete on the CBS reality television show “Survivor,” will discuss "Acknowledging Diverse Minds, Bodies and Spirits” in an 8 p.m. lecture Tuesday, Dec. 4, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center at the University of St. Thomas.
The lecture is free and open to the public; co-sponsors are the University Lectures Committee and STAR (St. Thomas Activities and Recreation).
Crittenden surprised viewers of “Survivor: Vanuatu” in 2005 when he revealed that he only had one leg. At age 33, he discovered a lump on the bottom of his right foot. He was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare and potentially deadly form of cancer; doctors amputated his leg below the knee.
Recovery was quick. He completed a triathlon nine months after the surgery and 18 months later appeared on “Survivor.” Today he competes in triathlons on a regular basis and also enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding and soccer.
In addition to being a father and a public speaker, Chad Crittenden competes in triathlons on a regular basis and also enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding and soccer.
After his diagnosis, Crittenden said he had to do some soul searching. “When you are in an extreme situation, your true colors show. It gets down to who you are at your center, your core,” he said.
One reason Crittenden applied for "Survivor" was to show the public that people with a disability or a handicap are just as capable as those without. “I wanted to go on ‘Survivor’ to dispel notions that people with disabilities are one step below able-bodied people,” he said. “There is nothing you can do about how others perceive you unless you are doing something to change their minds.”
He also did it for the adventure. Crittenden’s philosophy for success is simple: “Get motivated. I just started thinking about solving the problem instead of wondering why, and trying to blame someone or wallowing in my sorrow,” he said. “I looked at how I was going to make my life normal again.”
Crittenden is a native of California where he developed a love of sports and the outdoors. He graduated from the University of California at Davis, where he studied international relations, the environment and Spanish. After teaching a bilingual second-grade class, he accepted a teaching position in El Salvador where he met his wife, Dyann. They now have two young children and live in the San Francisco area.
Cancer-free for two years, he has taken a leave of absence to lecture, be a full-time dad and work on a soon-to-be-published book about fathers and parenting. He also has been active with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and Adaptive Action Sports.