Kyle Lowman is optimistic 95% of the time, which is impressive for someone who is missing 100% of his right leg.
The 2017 Severna Park High School graduate was riding his motorcycle on August 24, 2018, when the driver of a Jeep Wrangler failed to yield at a stop sign in St. Pete Beach, Florida, at 5:00pm. Kyle remembers landing face-first on his stomach after the two vehicles collided.
“They had a tourniquet on my leg and then they put me on a stretcher,” Kyle said. “At that point, I knew my legs were mangled, but I didn’t know to what extent. From there, they got me in the ambulance, took me in and put me to sleep immediately. When I woke up, I found out my leg was gone.”
It took Kyle one week to stand and another week of rehab before he could return home. Two months later, he was fit for a prosthetic leg. All the while, he received hundreds of calls of support from former football and lacrosse teammates, friends and family members.
A GoFundMe page for Kyle has raised nearly $17,000 in seven months.
Now he wants to uplift other people facing similarly bleak circumstances. With support from his father, Rich Lowman, 19-year-old Kyle started the Rise Up Foundation to provide young amputee athletes with top-of-the-line, structurally sound prosthetics.
“I want to give kids the prosthetic they need, because of the expense,” Kyle said. “I was fortunate enough to have the whole Severna Park area come together and get me off my feet and change the attitude I had toward it, and for people who are less fortunate and don’t have that, I want to be there for them.”
A prosthetic leg can cost $5,000 to $50,000. Kyle is raising money by selling T-shirts and bumper stickers and by accepting donations. He expects to become more involved once he is comfortably mobile again. Kyle is consulting a third company, Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates (OPA) in Orlando, for a prosthetic after having bad experiences with two other suppliers.
“Immediately, [OPA] was able to distinguish why the prosthetic I have now was causing me severe back pain and the alignments were wrong,” Kyle said. “ … To have a company like we just ran into with people coming from Texas and all that, it’s definitely an eye-opener and a new light of hope.”
He is currently reviewing two options. A microprocessor would swing more freely and allow him to walk faster. A mechanical knee would be less advanced but still “life-changing” if properly aligned.
Despite the setbacks, Kyle is cautiously optimistic about his outlook.
“He’s 95% positive,” Rich said, “but like anyone, he’s going to have his bad times.”
The Lowmans are trying to channel that positive energy into the nonprofit. The Rise Up Foundation held its first fundraiser at Franklin Manor in Tampa, Florida, on April 28.
“We’re planning to do more sports-oriented events in the future,” Rich said. “We’re talking about doing a lacrosse tournament and hopefully we can get some Maryland teams to Tampa to play.”
Much of the marketing has been free or at a discount courtesy of MTD Marketing in Tampa, which is run by Broadneck High graduate Alex DeMarco.
Overall, Kyle has broad support according to Rich and people from Severna Park. Kyle was the 2016 Severna Park Falcons football team’s Defensive Most Valuable Player as an outside linebacker. He was also a faceoff specialist for the school’s 2017 4A/3A state champion lacrosse team.
“Kyle was a quiet leader,” said his former football coach, Will Bell. “He showed tremendous growth through high school academically and athletically. He was the type of player you loved to have out at practice because he always practiced the way he played games. Intensity was always high, and he expected the most of himself and his teammates. We could always count on Kyle to make a big play during games.”
As he encourages others to be optimistic, Kyle is transparent about his own struggles. Before losing his right leg, he had taken the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and was prepared to enter the Army.
He lost his leg, and for many nights, his ability to sleep.
“It felt like a razor blade was going underneath my toenail, and my brain couldn’t perceive my foot not being there,” Kyle said. “To this day, I still feel like my foot is inside my leg.”
Asked about the suicide epidemic in Severna Park, Kyle expressed that he has had similar thoughts. But he thanked the Severna Park community for its overwhelming support, and he shared some encouragement for anyone else who feels there is no way out.
“I was stuck in a very deep hole and I could not see any sign of life,” Kyle said. “When I got my first prosthetic, it was such a disappointment that I could not walk when I had anticipated it for two months. I was knocked back into the hole and even deeper that time.
“Anyone who is in a bad situation in life, they need to understand that it is only temporary. Nothing is ever permanent. There is always another side to the page.”