About Tyler Greene

Tyler is probably best known for his outgoing, warm demeanor. Everyone was his friend and few ever saw him without a smile on his face. It was said that there were no strangers in Tyler’s life, only friends he had not yet met. He was always happy to see you, as evidenced by his signature smile and wave, and always had time for a chat. He sincerely cared about you and your life and was eager to tell you about his nephews and niece and godson. He tended to make an immediate, positive impression on people that was not easily forgotten.

Tyler survived a traumatic birth on February 7, 1990 after which he spent his first six weeks of life receiving wonderful care at the Neonatal ICU at the University of Iowa Hospitals. Tyler fully accepted and wholeheartedly embraced his cerebral palsy and other disabilities. It was simply who he was … he had no regrets. Despite being told what he would NOT be able to do, Tyler spent a lifetime of Doing. He started advocating for people with disabilities when he was eight years old speaking to education classes at the University of Northern Iowa with his mother, Gina. Rather than complain about his own disabilities, he was a staunch advocate for anyone and everyone marginalized by our world today including folks with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA community, and racial minorities.

Tyler’s Life

Tyler graduated from West Waterloo High School in 2008. He earned an Associate Degree at Hawkeye Community College and continued his education at the University of Northern Iowa earning a bachelor degree in Sociology. Tyler was involved in life in every way. He loved music of all kinds. He loved being a gamer. He was a movie buff extraordinaire. He was the person you wanted on your trivia team. Among the many activities Tyler enjoyed were playing softball in his wheelchair, doing karate on his knees, and being in the water, which he loved even though he sank like a rock.

Through his life, Tyler taught others there is always a way to overcome any obstacles we may face.He reminded us that “can’t” is not a useful word and wasn’t allowed in our family. His Eagle Scout project was creating a short, educational DVD about Ability Awareness. The DVD “I’m Tyler … don’t be surprised” was distributed to all school districts in Iowa for training of educators and administrators. It is still offered for free on this website.

Over 13,000 DVDs have been requested from all 50 states and 29 countries to-date. By the most conservative estimates, well over a million people around the world have learned about Ability Awareness through Tyler. And, happily, it continues through people like you yet today.

Story – A Priceless Treasure

Our family threw out “CAN’T” very early in Tyler’s life. We were going to do everything we, and he, had an interest in doing. So, it wasn’t unusual for us to find ourselves in inaccessible situations where we had to ditch the wheelchair and put Tyler on dad’s back. This task I embraced gladly. I know I found true JOY helping Tyler this way. In reality, it helped all of us to overcome the physical and attitudinal obstacles thrown in his way.

So, was the case in Colorado years ago when we were hiking and quickly found the trail impassable for a wheelchair and a mountainside of boulders just waiting to be conquered. As Tyler and I got ready to climb the mountainside, a smiling older gentleman said, “That’s quite a burden you’re carrying there!” Without thinking and with an even bigger smile, my quick reply was, “That’s no burden. That’s a treasure!”

Yes, I knew I was carrying a priceless treasure on my back … such was the case when carrying any of my children. But little did I know then how this treasure would touch so many people, would one day set off to change the world … and then would do it.

Tyler’s legacy is now in our hands. our voices, and our hearts

Remembering Tyler

Tyler was the inclusion coordinator for Together We Play, a part of the Inclusion Connection in the Cedar Valley. In that role he partnered with organizations in Iowa to help them create more inclusive programming and activities. Tyler was an active member of First Congregational UCC of Waterloo and Threehouse Collaborative Campus Ministries at UNI. He believed we are all made in God’s image … everyone.

But mostly, Tyler was simply full of love and compassion for others, especially those often trivialized by our society. People seldom forgot their encounters with Tyler and remember him with a smile. Everywhere our family went, someone knew Tyler. Tyler loved his whole family deeply, especially his nephews, Wesley & Zachary, his niece, Ellison, and his godson, Vincent.

Tyler David Greene, 31, of Waterloo, Iowa died November 10 at the Surgical ICU at the same University of Iowa Hospitals after being struck by a car while out in his wheelchair. The outpouring of Love from the world at his death was a testament to the Life he led.

He would want you to Be Kind and Love Others … please do. His dream was to change the world. He did.