Josh's Biography

Josh has had the opportunity to live with both life-long and acquired disabilities, each giving him unique perspectives on life. Born with a birth defect in his leg, Josh’s parents refused to do as the doctors suggested and have his leg amputated, instead kept seeing doctors until they found one willing to attempt to make his leg functional. While this was the more painful and complex option, it seemed most logical since it still allowed for amputation if the foot could not be made functional. About 10 years and a half dozen surgeries later, he was able to walk with only a slight limp; running, jumping, and lengthy walking would cause severe stress fractures however, so his activities were still limited.

As a teen, Josh normalized his disability, and never saw himself as disabled. He had a modified PE class at school, but rode dirt bikes, snowmobiles, and horses, drove with regular foot pedals, and worked around his family’s farm. While he didn’t see himself as disabled, classmates did, which nearly caused him to quit school when he turned 16.

Again Josh’s parents did what they thought was best, and he and his dad moved to California from Pennsylvania so he could attend a different school. While back in Pennsylvania over summer break between his junior and senior year of high school, Josh rolled his Jeep, resulting in the death of his friend and a broken neck for himself. After 3 weeks in ICU, Josh came to Craig Hospital for rehab for 4 months, returned to the school he despised for his senior year, then moved to Denver 7 days after graduating high school.

Colorado has brought Josh numerous opportunities and experiences, including: his BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from CU Denver, working as an engineer for a NASCAR team, exposure to all facets of the disability rights movement, and comfort of living in one of the most accessible cities in the world. An implosion of “work incentives” resulting in the loss of his Medicaid benefits after getting laid off has brought Josh into the disability rights arena, though he does intend to return to the “regular” world eventually.

Josh Winkler MX at Pismo Beach, California Josh Winkler with service dog Keystone
Josh Winkler in ICU after accident Josh Winkler Jeep after accident Josh Winkler in windtunnel