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Awesome by Accident: How adapting to a "tragic accident" led me to create my extraordinary life by Gene R. Rodgers

Awesome by Accident: How adapting to a "tragic accident" led me to create my extraordinary life

by Gene R. Rodgers

310 pages
This memoir chronicles the life of Gene R. Rodgers who became permanently paralyzed at age 17. The author regales readers with professional, adventure and entrepreneurial quests that have earned him the moniker, AWESOME.

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Category: Memoir
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About the Book
Awesome by Accident

Awesome by Accident is about a precocious 17 year old boy, Gene R. Rodgers, whose future is all mapped out for him. He has grown to appreciate the values of self-reliance, stoicism, determination, and tenaciousness as taught to him by his parents. Rodgers’s plans for the future reflect all of those values as he declares his decision to homestead in Alaska. His decision is emblematic of earlier plans to row solo across Lake Erie. Undeterred by lack of experience, he proceeds with confidence to make his dreams and plans a reality.

Paralyzed in a hiking accident, he must rethink his future. Rodgers’ spirit is tested to its core as he struggles to make sense of his new life. He languishes in uncertainty while the gravity of his situation slowly becomes clear to him. Unable to accept his probable future he attempts suicide only to have his plans thwarted by a quick thinking no nonsense doctor. Rodgers decides to work relentlessly to successfully become rehabilitated.

Now thrown into a world not of his making, Rodgers must find a way to once again embrace his family’s value of self-reliance. To become self-reliant, he must leave the security of home, the support system that protects him. Can he survive on his own? Is that even possible? He struggles to identify an acceptable career path. He relies on a post-secondary education to give him an edge in employment somewhere in the science field. While away at school, he decides not to let school get in the way of his education. Dorm life suits him well and he makes friends that change his life. One of Rodgers’ friends, Bruce, enlightens him to the possibilities the world has to offer. He meets Jane who is instrumental to his emotional healing and well-being. Rodgers contemplates a life with Jane permanently a part of it. Making a life long emotional commitment will mean sacrificing a more solitary life he still seeks. Bruce, Rodgers and other school friends travel throughout North America enjoying many adventures along the way. These experiences mold Rodgers into an undefeatable force as he embraces his mantra, fortune favors the brave.

Rodgers becomes confident he can live independently, becoming self-reliant, as his family would expect. Though given a poor hand, he has played it well. Armed with a strong foundation of academics and endowed with social capital to support a life worth living, Rodgers builds an impressive resume. He earns a B.S. Ed to teach science in secondary education. He also earns an MBA and a Switzer Fellowship. His experiences become more varied and demanding as he worked in three states, traveled in 44 countries on six continents. He has enjoyed adventure sports including snow skiing, ski diving, paragliding, sailing on tall-ships, scuba diving, and trekking to name a few. He becomes an entrepreneur and subsequently a self-made millionaire. The more he learned and experienced, the more humble he became. Wherever he traveled, it was the people, not the place, that fulfilled him. Rodgers learned how to bounce back, to recover, to accomplish more than most people, able bodied or not. In Awesome by Accident, Rodgers repeatedly affirms that fortune does indeed favor the brave.


“Awesome by Accident” offers a truly unique and intimate insight of how awesome life can be. I will always be grateful to Gene for the amazing courage and fortitude he has demonstrated, the eager willingness with which he approached every day of life as an adventurer, and the goose-bump filled inspiration that he has been for all who have been fortunate to cross his beautiful path.
- Bruce Campbell
“To put it simply, Gene is the most remarkable human I’ve ever known. To see up close how much his injury took from him, and how he then chose to nevertheless live a fearless, full- throated life, made it impossible to not love him. I don’t want to miss a word of the story of his incredible life.”
- Jane White Taylor
Awesome by Accident invites you into a complicated journey. Rodgers learned that if you want to live a life of your own choosing, you have to call your own shots, take your own risks, learn how to accept help. You have to face the enemy and keep moving forward, convinced, deep down, that your future is up to you. In Awesome by Accident, Rodgers repeatedly affirms that fortune does indeed favor the brave. Now in his 60s, with a myriad of amazing sports and travel adventures across the globe under his belt, Rodgers has seen his fair share of failure and success, and he’s ok with both of them. Come read his story and let it remind you that the life you want is out there, and that accidents can turn out to be awesome.
- Chris Strickling Ph. D.



About the Author
Gene R. Rodgers Rodgers became paralyzed in a hiking accident at age 17. He has earned several college degrees, and earned a Switzer Fellowship. He has traveled on 6 continents and sailed on several oceans. He has enjoyed many adventure sports including an expedition to Mt. Everest Base Camp. He is now retired.



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