Paralyzed man achieves goal of finishing Cooper River Bridge Run
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) —
Adam Gortlitsky took 26,000 steps during the Cooper River Bridge Run on Saturday as he tried to make history as one of the first paraplegic people using an exoskeleton to complete the race.
"I'm feeling good, very confident," the Mount Pleasant man said before the race.
Each of his steps was made with the help of an exoskeleton machine, which he uses to walk after being paralyzed in a car crash ten years ago while in college.
"I'm just looking to get warmed up and just do this right," he said.
While it was the 39th Cooper River Bridge Run, it was a day of firsts for Gorlitsky.
"I tell you what I don't know if there's a straight line in that bridge," he said.
Pitted against the wind and the steep incline of the Ravenel Bridge, he paused to reflect on his city halfway across.
"There really is no place like Charleston," he said.
He says this walk and these miles wouldn't happen without the love of those around him.
"It helps out a lot, it really does," he said. "I'm going to start crying if you keep asking me questions -- we got four miles to go; let's do it."
The man doctors once said would never walk again walked across the finish line.
"Ooh man, it feels really good. I'm speechless man, I really am," he said.
It took Gorlitsky seven hours to finish the race. He crossed the finish line at 2:12 p.m.
"My wrists feel like they're about to snap in half," he said.
He repeated one mantra each step of the way: "I got legs, that's all I can say, I got legs."
Once he reached the finish line, Gorlitsky was surrounded by supporters and well-wishers who wanted to see him complete his goal.
"There really is no place like Charleston, thank you all," he told the crowd.
Marka Rodgers, the other person using an exoskeleton on Saturday, completed the race in just under three hours.