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Devoted Couple

Madison’s Crawleys find way
to compete despite injury

John Crawley pushes wife, Stacy,
in special running stroller at Ohio marathon

By Tess Worrell
Contributing Writer

(November 2012) – What a difference a month makes. In August, Stacy, 39, and John, 43, Crawley of Madison, Ind., successfully competed in the Ironman Louisville competition, swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, then running a full marathon. Thrilled with their finish times, they rejoiced in the goals they had achieved. Though relaxed, they kept training for their final event of the year – the Nationwide Columbus Marathon and Mini-Marathon in Columbus, Ohio.
One sunny September afternoon, they opted to bike up Hwy. 421 in Madison on a route they had traveled countless times. Because of the windy conditions, John cautioned Stacy to draft close behind him.

John and Stacy Crawley

Photo by Patti Watson

John and Stacy
Crawley would not
let her bicycle accident
injuries keep the
couple from competing
in the Columbus,
Ohio, marathon.

Then the unthinkable happened. Her front wheel collided with his back wheel as they traveled 20 mph up the hill. The collision catapulted Stacy to the middle of the road. As emergency personnel converged onto the scene, Stacy’s extensive injuries became apparent – a shattered collar bone, broken pelvis, broken ribs and bruised lungs. Combined with a severe concussion, her injuries meant Stacy was confined to University of Louisville Trauma Center for one week, then she was transferred to Southern Indiana Rehabilitation Center for another.
“When I got to the rehab hospital, I couldn’t sit up, couldn’t get to my wheelchair. I couldn’t do anything,” says Stacy.
Just weeks after her victory in Louisville, Stacy lay in a hospital unable to move the right side of her body.
“This has been quite a journey,” says Stacy. “The rehab hospital got me to the point of being able to get to my wheelchair and maneuver around the house, but I only have one arm and one leg. It’s hard to get around, especially when the chair goes somewhere I don’t want it to go,” Stacy says, laughing.
“But, I feel so lucky. I was in the middle of Hwy. 421. I could have been hit by a car and wasn’t. The first people on the scene were all medical personnel. And, I’m told to expect a 100 percent recovery. This has been really hard, but at the same time I feel so lucky.”
While Stacy recuperated in the hospital, John faced his own challenges at home. Between trips to Louisville, he kept the house running along with daughters, Montana, 14, and Amber, 17. In addition, John ran their business, Crawley Heating and Cooling, doing both Stacy’s jobs and his own.
Then he contracted the flu. When he could finally return to Stacy’s hospital bedside, one thing on his mind was the upcoming race in Columbus. Despite her encouragements, John couldn’t face running the race without Stacy.
He finally said, “I could push you. Why couldn’t we get a stroller or something?”
A friend of Stacy’s contacted the manager of BlueMile, a runners’ store in Indianapolis. The salesman offered a specialized running stroller free of charge to the Crawleys for the Columbus race.
“We started at the back of the crowd, and John pushed me for the entire race. By the end, we passed half the 17,000 runners and finished in two hours six minutes – 24 minutes ahead of our goal,” says Stacy, excitedly.
One month earlier, Stacy lay on her back in the hospital; on Oct. 21, she crossed the finish line with her husband. “We always race together. That’s just who we are. I had to use two wheels, but we did it.”
The couple is slowly putting their life back together. They still coach the Madison Consolidated High School swim team. Stacy pursues her therapy. They have developed a plan for running the business until she can return. And they are planning future runs.
“I hope to qualify for the Olympic distance triathlon by next fall,” she says. “John hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He’ll have to do that one without me,” she says, laughing.

John and Stacy Crawley

Photo provided

John Crawley pushes
his wife, Stacy, in a
marathon at
Columbus, Ohio,
in September after
she suffered injuries
from a bicycle accident
a few weeks before.

Fellow triathlete and close friend, Lindsey Cook, has no doubt the couple will meet their goals. “Their dedication and determination are incredible,” says Cook. “I saw it as we trained for the Ironman and saw it even more afterward. In the hospital, Stacy was already setting goals so she could get home to her husband and family as quickly as possible. I called John right after the accident to encourage him, and he ended up calming me down. They are an amazing couple. It makes me feel better about the world to know people like them are in it. They just love each other and their family so much.”
The Crawleys hope to take all they have learned and use it to help others. “I never realized how much hardship people face when in wheelchairs,” says Stacy. She recalls the various times John would push her through a restaurant or shop, and people simply refused to make room. She also notes that when buildings say “Handicapped Accessible,” the phrase has limited meaning.
“Sure, you can get through the automated front door,” she notes. “But what about the bathroom? There isn’t a button there. I can get in but not back out.” The couple hopes to combine all they have learned from her experience with their love of running. “We’ve thought about forming a nonprofit organization that offers races for those who can’t run – the physically disabled. Runners could push them in the special strollers so they can have the excitement we feel when we run.”
Of all she has learned, Stacy focuses on the gratitude. “I’m so much more aware of what I can do – things I used to take for granted like walking, seeing, smelling. I’ve also learned to never give up – that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Who would have thought we would be able to do the Columbus race? Yet, we did it just weeks after I got out of the hospital – and in great time!” says Stacy.
What a difference a month makes.

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