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The Marathon Miracle

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BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 19, 2004–This April, a young man named Jack Shadduck plans to bicycle 26.2 miles–completing the same distance as the thousands of runners of the Boston Marathon. Why is it a miracle? Because Jack is paralyzed from the neck down.

Until recently, the medical community would have said that people with spinal cord injuries could never regain any movement or feeling in their paralyzed bodies. Jack Shadduck, along with others, is proving otherwise.

In May 2002, Jack–now a 15-year old honor student at Braintree High School–was struck with Transverse Myelitis, a rare inflammation of the spinal column, that has left the Massachusetts native a quadriplegic–paralyzed from the neck down–unable even to breathe without the support of a Ventilator. People with extreme paralysis like Jack suffer from many other health problems, ranging from Osteoporosis to infections, resulting in repeated hospitalizations.

Since September 2003, Jack’s been working to improve his health overall and regain some mobility through a pilot project called The First Five, sponsored by The Massachusetts Hospital School and the NorthEast Spinal Cord Initiative. He and three other spinal cord injured patients spend three evenings a week in an intensive, focused exercise program with coaching and supervision from an athletic trainer and a specialty nurse. The program includes riding a specially adapted exercise bike that uses electrodes placed on the rider’s legs and buttocks to contract their muscles, and enable them to work out.

After six months in this innovative program, Jack breathes without a ventilator for as long as five days in a row, can lift his left arm, and move several of his toes. For Jack, maybe the most important accomplishment is that he is now able to move both his arms back and forth enough to soon be able to use a joystick to steer his wheelchair, giving him much more control than using his mouth as he does now with a sip-and-puff device.

In April, Jack is determined to “bicycle” the Boston Marathon to raise funds so more young people like him can participate in the program that has helped him achieve so much. Jack’s looking for people willing to sponsor his Marathon Miracle. Whether it’s a nickel a mile from one of his younger brother’s elementary school classmates, or $1000 a mile from a corporation that respects the kind of determination Jack’s showing, every penny will go directly towards growing The First Five project.

The goal is to raise $500,000 to grow the program from four participants to forty. Funds are needed to purchase equipment, hire full-time staff and lease space. For more information or to make a pledge in support of Jack’s Marathon Miracle, please go to or Contributions to The First Five can also be sent directly to NorthEast Spinal Cord Initiative, c/o The Travis Roy Foundation, 111 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.

About The First Five: The goal of this pilot project is to assess the results of a high-intensity, focused exercise program on health, Functional improvement and complication reduction for adolescents and adults with spinal cord injuries. The project was initiated by the NorthEast Spinal Cord Initiative (NESCI), and is sponsored by the Massachusetts Hospital School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Partial funding is provided by the Travis Roy Foundation and a grant from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. The program is run by Susan Sheehy, MSN, RN, FAAN, a nurse researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a doctoral student at the Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing.

About The NorthEast Spinal Cord Initiative (NESCI): The ultimate goal of NESCI is to establish a spinal cord injury center that is state of the art, with leading edge programs specific to the ages of the patients, that includes family immersion into care of their loved one, opportunities for research participation, and Extension into the community with lifetime programs for spinal cord injured people.

About The Travis Roy Foundation: The Travis Roy Foundation was established in 1997 by spinal cord injured Boston University hockey player Travis Roy, to fund durable medical equipment for other spinal cord injury survivors and to fund research toward a cure for spinal cord paralysis.

EMI Strategic Marketing, a Boston based communications firm founded in 1989, provides pro bono marketing services in support of NorthEast Spinal Cord Initiative and The First Five.

EMI Strategic Marketing
Maggie Kessler, 617-451-9451

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