Updated: February 22, 2009 at 12:00 am
Craig Dietz is a normal, fun-loving guy — an attorney who spends his free time bowling, hunting, fishing, hanging out with his girlfriend and swimming laps.
The catch is, he was born with stubs instead of arms or legs.
Dietz, 34, attracted national attention in August after he swam nearly a mile in a Pittsburgh triathlon, using a flipper on one leg stump and a gyrating motion to propel his body, and ESPN picked up the story. He even beat a few dozen of the competitors with four limbs.
Dietz wasn't looking to be a spokesman for any cause, but he's inspired people as a guy who makes the most of what he's got.
On March 5, Dietz will speak publicly about his life for the first time at a fundraiser for Mosaic, a faith-based Colorado Springs nonprofit serving people with developmental disabilities.
Although he used to recoil at the idea of speaking gigs like this, he said, he's grown into the role in recent months.
"Yes, I've been dealt a difficult hand, but everybody has challenges. It is what you make of it," Dietz said by phone from Pittsburgh. "If I can inspire people to get off the couch, then that's great. A lot of people like to realize they don't have it so bad."
"Craig's amazing story shows how any person, regardless of their ability level, can achieve greatness in their life," said Mosaic spokeswoman Melissa DeSutter."At Mosaic, we strive to support this same dream with each of the people we serve."
Dietz is helped by James Bond-style contraptions like a joystick device he uses to drive and a rifle mounted on a spinning stool that he uses to hunt. He invented them, in fact — he inherited an engineer's mind from his dad.
"I look at something and see a way around it," Dietz said.
But he learned tenacity from his mom.
"I learned from my mom that not doing it is not an option," he said. "She'd always say, ‘Why can't he do it?'"
His mom's twisted sense of humor also has helped him. She got him the fake license plate for his van that says "Look Ma! No hands!" And Dietz named his three-man triathlon team "Bob," to poke fun of himself as a human bobber.
"I am pretty buoyant," he said. "I think it has to do with not having arms and legs."
There are even some advantages to being born without limbs. For instance, he is an attorney for the city of Pittsburgh and defends the city against personal injury lawsuits.
Imagine for a moment the woman last year who was suing the city for big money because she busted her toe, it got infected, and the tip of her No. 2 toe was amputated.
"Here I am deposing her, asking her ‘Please ma'am, tell me what's so traumatic about losing the tip of your toe," Dietz said. "Yeah, they settled."
CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0226 or email@example.com
What: Mosaic "Redefining Potential" fundraiser, featuring Craig Dietz
Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2886 South Circle Dr.
When: 5:30 p.m. March 5; must register by March 2
Tickets: $35, includes heavy hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction; purchase tickets by calling Melissa DeSutter at 380-0451 ext. 1005 or log onto www.mosaicinfo.org/colorado_springs
Benefits: Mosaic, a faith-based nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities in Colorado Springs
- Mosaic is a faith-based organization serving people with developmental disabilities.
- Currently serves about 170 adults who have developmental disabilities in the Colorado Springs community, and Mosaic serves more than 3,500 people nationally. Services include a day program, job skills training services, host homes and group homes, supported living options and supportive employment programs.
- In Colorado Springs since 1979