When Don McGrail first met Garrett FitzGerald out of the Secret Service’s Boston office in September 2015, he noticed a focused, driven individual.
And though FitzGerald’s circumstances have dramatically changed since, that hasn’t changed.
An accident that left FitzGerald paralyzed in December 2015 changed him physically, but it hasn’t affected his determination. It’s pushed him through challenging times, through years of rehab at Journey Forward as he continues to try to improve, and it will no doubt carry him this Monday. That’s when he and McGrail will combine to be a dual team — FitzGerald in a wheelchair, and McGrail pushing him — as they run the Boston Marathon, a goal that’s been years in the making.
This couple is in it for the long haul.
For Rob Summers, 31, and Julie Grauert, 34, the New York City Marathon was an opportunity to fund-raise for a cause near and dear to their hearts: Finding a cure for the six million Americans living with paralysis.
But as the first-time marathoners worked to get closer to a cure, they also got closer to each other.
Summers was a 20-year-old pitcher at Oregon State with dreams of playing in the Major Leagues when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in July 2006.
Hector Picard and Kerry Gruson were each in their mid-20s when devastating events permanently changed their lives.
As a young reporter heading to Vietnam to cover the war in 1974, Gruson was interviewing a veteran Green Beret who had a flashback, mistook her for a Viet Cong and strangled her, leaving her quadriplegic and neurologically disabled.
Two decades later, Picard, an electrician, received 13,000 volts of electricity from a substation transformer, leaving him burned over nearly half his body and requiring the amputation of his entire right arm and half of his left one.
The fourth Wings for Life World Run was another record-breaking edition – with 155,288 registered participants raising a huge 6.8 million euros for spinal cord research. The global movement saw 27 course records smashed as participants of all levels, from fun runners to elite champions, set off at 11:00 UTC, running side-by-side and via the App across 111 locations in 58 countries around the planet.
Their target? To race – in glorious weather, searing heat or freezing cold, depending on the location – and for as long as possible outrun the moving finish lines that are the Catcher Cars, driven by the likes of Formula One legend David Coulthard in the UK and Carlos Sainz in Spain.
Here are some of the key numbers from an unforgettable day of racing…
Five years of pain can wear anyone down. Ask Josh Heine, and he’ll tell you healing often takes longer than expected.
After a near-fatal car crash in 2007, the 28-year-old Paducah native was left with only limited upper mobility. He had to adapt quickly to life as a quadriplegic, or so people told him.
Now after regaining limited use of his arms and legs, and with several wheelchair marathons under his belt, Heine has modeled for Quickie — a global wheelchair manufacturer — since last May. As a marketing student at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, he’ll begin a national ad campaign in April through wheelchair distributor Sunrise Medical.