Sep 26, 2023

Dillon Lecture Series: He amputated his own hand to stay alive

Posted Sep 26, 2023 8:00 PM
Aron Ralston-Photo by Nick Gosnell
Aron Ralston-Photo by Nick Gosnell


HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Trapped alone in a Utah canyon for nearly a week and pinned by a half-ton boulder, Aron Ralston had to choose between his hand and his life. Even though he lost that limb, he said at his Dillon Lecture Series press conference on Tuesday, he gained a great amount of perspective.

"It was a tremendous gift for me," Ralston said. "That's what I try to share with people about what happened, not just to me, but for me, that I would be given all of these incredible gifts of insight into my life and the value of what's important to me, just having life. Being able to share that with other people became this incredible purpose, that might touch and reach people who might find themselves in a dark place."

Connection with others is what has become most important to Ralston in the past 20 years.

"While I was trapped, by talking to my family in my video camera that I had with me, although, yes, I was extraordinarily isolated, you'd have to be on the other side of the moon to be more isolated than what I felt, but that I felt connected, simultaneously."

Given that COVID-19 has caused everyone to have some forced isolation at one time or another in the last few years, a message like Ralston's can resonate as communities come back together.

"We are the social animals that we are," Ralston said. "It's reinforced how precious and how, at the same time, precarious, all of that is, which, I hope, means that we remember how valuable it is. Those are the gifts that adversity can give us. Sometimes, it's we only realize how much we value something when it's taken away and then, when we get it back, how fulfilling it is, to have that again."

2023 is the 42nd season for the Dillon Lecture Series on the HutchCC Campus. For more information on the Dillon Lecture Series or to become a patron, visit or call Becky Rogers at 620-665-3505.