It has been nearly two years since Littleton born Ashley Brotherton and her boyfriend Clayton Wilbanks were run over by a drunk driver while walking home from a concert on New Years in Anchorage, Alaska. Both graduates of Heritage High School, the couple moved to Alaksa after graduating college for a new adventure and for Brotherton's job as a special education teacher at Denali Montessori. Her career has been put on hold following the accident.
The road to recovery for the couple is still on going. Wilbanks suffered severe internal injuries and Brotheron a traumatic brain injury. Brotherton flew back to Colorado to undergo rehab at Craig Hospital. It was there that she earned how to knit from an occupational therapist as a way to practice fine motor skills and to try and get her left & right hand to work together. The hobby has now turned business. Brotherton launched an Etsy site where she knits beanies and donates a portion to Craig Hospital.
I was able to catch up with Brotherton to learn more about her recovery and the launch of "For the Fun of Knit"
Carri: What prompted the idea for the site.
Ashley: Not having a job is difficult, I have always been a busy body & have had a job for as long as I can remember. I know that for the time being, a full time job, especially one like teaching, is not the best choice for my health. When I realized I was spending nearly all my free time knitting new hats, scarves, gloves & Christmas tree garland, I knew I needed to do more with it. I found myself always making accessories for other people. After talking to Clayton & sharing my idea for starting an Etsy shop we brainstormed together about how to go about it. This gives me the chance to do a little something for Craig and all of the current & future people that have the opportunity to be patients there.
Carri: How has the knitting helped your recovery?
Ashley: Since our accident, I have found that a lot of normal day-to-day activities act like therapy to me. Knitting has allowed me to not only work on my fine motor skills & the coordination between my 2 hands, it has given me a new purpose. I knew that quitting my job as a teacher would create a new sense of life for me but I had no idea the fulfillment I got when I was working with such amazing kiddos & coworkers. I miss that! But, creating these custom beanies for people & putting a smile on their face fulfills me in a new way. I like to see other people happy & this does the trick in a much less stressful, less demanding way.
Carri: What made you decide to donate a portion to Craig?
Ashley: I wanted to pay it forward. Craig helped me get back up when I was at my lowest of lows. I owe them so much & I know there's no way I could possibly pay them back for everything they have done for me. I know this isn't much but I know it will somewhat help future Craig patients have an amazing rehab experience & that makes my heart happy.
Carri: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Ashley: "I once worked at Red Robin as the bird, multiple times! Clayton loves to remind me about that.
Carri: What do you love about Denver?
Ashley: Denver is such a special place for me...it's home! What I love most about Denver is the happiness it exudes. Maybe it's the never ending sunshine. I just feel like it's such an easy place to live. People aren't in a hurry, they're laid back. I love how Coloradans seem to have that 'work to live' mentality, not the 'live to work' mentality. I really appreciate that. Life's too short to not live it. Not to mention the mountains, the active lifestyles people have, the beer, the sports teams, the good food, the awesome weather, it's the perfect place to live!