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One More Step

Colin Potts uplifts fellow amputees with his message of positivity and perseverance.

Colin Potts has faced more heartbreak in his life than most people will ever have to deal with. By the time he was 33, the former chef had lost both parents, all grandparents and two siblings. Then, after a fall down the stairs, he had 21 surgeries over 17 years on his foot and ankle, ending in amputation. A year ago, he lost his brother to pancreatic cancer. And last year, Potts was diagnosed with the dysautonomia POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). The Potomac native, now a motivational speaker and the COO of Regenerative Orthopedics & Sports Medicine (where he helps patients find alternatives to surgery), shares his story to help others tap into their internal strength to stay positive and thrive.  

“I’ve seen a lot through death. I’ve seen cancer, I’ve seen suicide, I’ve been a caregiver and I’ve lost a limb. I share those experiences to give people hope in the sense that you can get through anything that comes your way,” Potts says. “My goal is to give at least one person hope a day. I have no regrets. I love my life.” 

Potts calls his mission The Positivity Revolution. “There are so many people who need help out there in the world and if we all just do our part, I believe we can and will change the world to make it a better place,” Potts says. 

A hurtful moment when he was marginalized in a post office by a fellow patron really pushed him to speak out about random acts of kindness, because, as he puts it, “no one in this world should ever be marginalized in terms of how they look. Everyone should have the opportunity to get out into the world and live and thrive, not swept under the rug and put out of society.” 

Potts says that the lowest part of his journey after amputation was the fact that many friends and family members walked away from him. “For a lot of people, the sight was just something they didn’t want to deal with.” As disappointing as that was, Potts soon made new friends and made meeting new people his focus. He soon realized that “your true friends will come back and stick by you” and he made plenty of new friends as he rebuilt his life. 

Potts recalls befriending a stroke patient in rehab as they were relearning how to walk. They would encourage each other in the halls as they made progress on their walkers. Every day, Potts would encourage his new friend with the motto “just one more step,” explaining “One step becomes two which becomes four and then you have the multiplier effect and as soon as you start to feel and see that progress, that becomes your own internal inspiration to move forward.” When his new friend started walking again, he gave Potts a big hug and said, “I’m walking because of you.” 

Anyone who struggles to stay positive in trying times should listen to Potts’ advice. 

“When things get difficult, we tend to abandon the things we love,” he explains. “For instance, when we get busy we stop going to the gym. My compass has always been to get back to the things that feed your soul.” For Potts, that’s being outdoors (the C&O Canal is a favorite place to spend downtime), exercising and gardening. A year after getting his prosthesis, Potts successfully ran a 5K.  “The most important thing is to keep our eyes open because that’s how you recenter yourself and find yourself again. When you know yourself well, all the rest of the steps fall into place relatively quickly.”