On October 15, 2006, Brian Roders was on a month-long bike ride to Wisconsin with a friend he met volunteering with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps earlier that summer. They were two weeks into their ride when they set up camp for the night outside Byers, Colorado out on the great plains. That night the unimaginable happened. Someone was off-roading in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle and ran over the bright orange bivy sack Brian was sleeping in. Caught under the truck, Brian was dragged for 300 feet under the vehicle.
He was taken to Swedish Medical Center and stayed there, in a coma, for three weeks. Brian sustained a traumatic brain injury and a spinal cord injury to his L1-L5 vertebrae and his sacrum. In November 2006, he was transferred to Craig Hospital where he began rehabilitation. Brian spent four months at Craig, working with an inpatient team including a physician, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, respiratory therapists, and therapeutic recreation specialists. After months of long, challenging days of rehabilitation, Brian walked out of Craig in February 2007, still with a long road of recovery ahead of him.
It has been 10 years since Brian was last at Craig. Since then, he has gone on to get his Bachelor’s in Psychology (and gearing up to pursue a master’s in nutrition), works as a medical assistant and is a certified phlebotomist, hiked part of the Appalachian trail, rode almost 18,000 miles on his bike over the last decade, and most recently, came back to Colorado to participate in Craig Hospital’s annual fundraiser, Pedal4Possible.
Cycling always played a significant role in Brian’s life, but it wasn’t until after his accident that it became a way of life. When Brian first regained consciousness after the accident, the first questions he asked were, “Is my bike OK? Where is my bike?” Since that moment, his bike become an integral part of his recovery. “It’s a big piece of my identity. This bike defines me,” says Brian. “When I’m on this bike, I don’t walk with a limp. It normalizes me, but then again, it’s my uniqueness.”
Brian was looking for a way to give back, and was excited to learn he could help Craig and ride his bike along the Rockies all at the same time. On September 16, 2017, a decade after his accident, Brian participated in the 2nd annual Pedal4Possible fundraiser supporting Craig Hospital patients and programs. His brother, Michael Roders, flew in from California to support Brian during the race, just as he had years ago when Brian was rehabilitating at Craig. “He really feels indebted to Craig Hospital. He’s excited to come back and do whatever he can to help,” says Michael.
As he reflects on the last 10 years of his life, Brian realizes how much he has overcome and the role Craig played in his recovery. “It’s weird to say you like a hospital, but Craig made me better. I can never lose sight of it--It’s a special place for me,” says Brian.