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Faith helps Oklahoma man grab hold of life after accident

Ever since Tyler Bowman lost his arms in an electrical shock accident in 2007, the Pawhuska native has embraced Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” One of those things is that he will graduate from University of Central Oklahoma.
by Bryan Painter Published: May 5, 2013

His all-things approach includes academics. With the help of Pastor Creth Hopkins and his wife, Rhonda, Bowman was homeschooled and graduated from high school on time in 2009. After earning an associate degree at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, he began attending UCO.

Why did he choose to study business?

“There's a business side to everything,” Bowman said. “So I kind of wanted to be more diverse as far as in the fields that I've learned.

“Eventually I would like to open my own business.”

‘Tyler's something else'

At preschool in Pawhuska, the teacher could tell pretty quickly that these two country kids, Bowman and J.D. Coldren, would probably get along.

“So they sent me down there to play with him and kind of get to know him,” said Coldren, 22.

“We've been pretty much best friends ever since that day.”

After that year, Bowman went to Pawhuska schools until the accident, and his buddy went to Shidler. But that didn't separate them. When school wasn't in, they'd sometimes spend weeks together — “'til we got sick of each other, then we'd take a break for awhile, then we'd hang out again,” Coldren said.

Coldren, who has been working in recent months in Wyoming, said his friend's approach to life after the accident has changed his own perspective about challenges.

“My family and I went to visit Tyler at the hospital a few weeks after his accident. This is when he was fully awake and aware of what was going on and how it would affect him for the rest of his life,” Coldren said. “From the moment I walked into that little room, he had a smile on his face as if it was the best day of his life. Most people would still be down and out. I know I would have been.

“When I entered the room, he stuck out what was left of his arm to shake my hand with no hesitation and asked how I was, and we talked and laughed for a few hours just like normal and never really even said much about the accident.”

The only things Bowman said about it were positive. Instead of wondering why God would allow this, Bowman was saying, “Why not me?” Coldren remembers sitting there listening to his buddy reason that “God must know I can handle this and have a plan for me.”

A few minutes later, as the Coldrens were about to leave, Tyler looked at J.D. and said, “Man I can't wait to get my arms and get adjusted to them so we can go have some fun like old times.”

And they did, including rooming together their freshman year at Northern Oklahoma College.

“In college, I hardly ever typed college reports, I always had a girl do it for me,” Coldren said. “Tyler typed every one of those papers with that keyboard. I don't know how he done it, but he did it.

“Tyler's something else.”

Bowman contends that faith, family and friends are what have gotten him through and have allowed him to keep a great attitude.

“I've been able to reach more people and help more people,” Bowman said of life since the accident. “Before, I was a 16-year-old, I was just a normal kid, and it's like after the accident, I always give God the glory.

“Anything that is good in my life, God gets glory for it.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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