Saturday marks the 39th year of the Cooper River Bridge Run. It’s an annually anticipated  10K (6.2 mi) one-way road running event across the Ravenel Bridge here in Charleston. The Bridge Run is the only competition in South Carolina sanctioned by US Track & Field as an elite event. Based on number of race finishers, the event is the third largest 10K and the fifth largest road race in the U.S. 30,000-35,000 participants, run or walk across the bridge and along the race route. This year, there will be a special participant who will make history as the 1st paralyzed man to walk the Cooper River Bridge Run.  Wearing his state-of-the-art exoskeleton, a battery-powered, wearable system with motors at the hip and knee joints. Its monitored use is available in only 35 rehab hospitals across the United States. It weighs 60 pounds and allows for user-initiated mobility through the integration of a wearable brace support, a computer-based control system and motion sensors. Through repeated body shifting, Gorlitsky and others like him can generate a sequence of steps that mimic a functional natural gait of the legs.  Adam Gorlitsky will cross the bridge, determined to raise awareness and “bridge the gap” between what it means to be disabled and able-bodied. His “team” of friends, family and supporters will be wearing tee shirts with his message on it, “I Got Legs”. “I love challenging myself,” Gorlitsky said on Monday morning at Charleston’s Pivotal Fitness, one of two gyms at which he has trained since receiving his personal exoskeleton on Dec. 30, 2015. “You know, a lot of people say you’re changing the world and stuff. I initially did this just to change my world. I wanted to change my world and then hopefully through that, I could touch other people’s worlds, too. I think that’s my main message.”

Adam suffered his paralysis when he survived a car accident that left him with a spinal cord injury causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down.  While obviously grateful to be alive, the news devastated the then 19-year-old college student who had spent his life enjoying athletics and the outdoors.  Nearly a decade later, after many triumphs and heartbreaks along his journey, Adam is redefining what his normal is and has been given the opportunity to walk again.  With the help of a robotic exoskeleton, called ReWalk, Adam is changing the game on what life looks like for someone with a spinal cord injury.  Adam, always pushing boundaries, refuses to stop short of spectacular.  Adam’s message for all of us is,

Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find they haven’t half the strength you think they have.

— Norman Vincent Peale

I will be looking forward to cheering Adam on in this miraculous mile stone that he is sharing with all of us!