A Life Dedicated to Paying it Forward

Today ADA honors the life of a long time customer and friend- David Fowler.

About David- In his youth, David was an avid surfer who loved being by the water. He joined the Army shortly after high school because he felt the need to “do something more with [his] life”. There, he became a paratrooper with the famed 82nd Airborne Division. In 1984, however, he became a C4-5 quadriplegic after a serious diving accident.

His challenges- After his injury David explained his reaction: “I was like everybody else. You get angry, you get depressed, you get bitter, and you slowly grow to accept it.” Dealing with his injury was especially challenging when he got home, since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had not yet been passed. David says before this act “the world outside wasn’t very welcoming.”

Overcoming his injury- In 1991, David attended the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Although hesitant at first, he slowly realized that with the help of some adaptive equipment he could bowl better than before his injury. After this realization, the sky was the limit. He began competing in several adaptive sports including power soccer, slalom, wheelchair races and power relay events.

Paying it forward- It was soon after attending his first games that David had a thought: “If I can do this, what else can I do? How can I pay back this organization that is improving my life?”  His philosophy in life became very clear…to pay it forward. He would reach out to other injured veterans and help them move forward as he had been helped.

Accomplishments- David first became involved with the Texas Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America where he served as an advocacy director, Vice President and President for several years.  After some time of serving veterans in Texas, his aspiration was to be involved at a national level. With the love and support of his wife, Marilou, David was elected as the PVA’s National Vice President in October of 2011.

-David was appointed by Rick Perry to the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD). Here he made policy recommendations and Legislative recommendations related to veteran services.

-He was an advocate on the United Continental Accessible Travel Advisory Board. His goal was to educate people on the struggles a person with disabilities faces when traveling by air.

-He championed legislation for veterans with disabilities that led to improved access to services and programs in Texas and nationally for veterans with disabilities.

-He was even a featured athlete on the General Mills Cheerios box sold in military markets as the Gold Medal winner of the 2007 National Wheelchair Games.

David was a true hero who has unquestionably inspired many others to pay it forward. He will be greatly missed by his family, co-workers and friends….

“Even though the responsibilities come with a lot of trials and tribulations, the reward is great when you realize that you made an impact on someone’s life. I’m paying it forward for the next guys coming behind us, just like the people 27 years ago did for me.”

David Fowler

July 30, 1960- February 18, 2014


Posted on February 21, 2014 by Katie Larson