PITTSBURG, Kan. — If asked to roll up his pants to the knee and show his titanium legs, Chuck Harper will gladly oblige.
But he was a little embarrassed Thursday to be getting so much media attention — first from a television station, then a newspaper, then a radio station — on the eve of his graduation from Pittsburg State University.
“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me,” the 45-year-old Fort Scott man said of a double amputation that was performed before his last year of college. “This isn’t about me.”
What it is about, Harper said, is determination, faith and attitude.
“I could have just rolled over and said ‘I quit,’ and that’s what would have happened,” he said. “Just because of something that is dealt to you doesn’t mean you have to give up and quit. I’ve got a lot of things left I want to accomplish.”
One of those things is to walk on those titanium legs across the stage Friday night to pick up his diploma. It will be a 56-foot journey that he said was 25 years in the making.
Harper graduated from high school and then community college in Fort Scott. When he began working on a bachelor’s degree in business at PSU in 1987, he was married and had children, but he hadn’t yet found his passion when it came to a career.
“I hadn’t found what I wanted to do,” he said.
He quit school and devoted himself to his family and full-time employment — first in the restaurant business, then customer service and sales at a printing company, and finally in insurance.
He and his wife, Connie, raised four daughters and began serving as foster parents. They found it rewarding, and after many hours of training and approval, they currently count two adopted children, two foster children and three children for whom they are the custodial parents among their household.