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Charleston man wants to be first paralyzed person to run Cooper River Bridge Run

Adam Gorlitsky navigates the hallways of Roper St. Francis (WPDE)

BY ALEX HEATON

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WPDE) -- Walking might be something many take for granted, but that's not the case for Adam Gorlitsky.

Gorlitsky, 29, was paralyzed from the waist down nearly 10 years ago after a car wreck in college.

"It's really like a punch in the gut," Gorlitsky said of the moment doctors told him he wouldn't walk again. "It's a day that I'll never forget, but a lot of good has come out of it."

Now, Gorlitsky's got legs, and he's learning to walk again thanks to the ReWalk Exoskeleton program at Roper St. Francis Hospital in Charleston.

"He starts out with learning how to stand up, sit up, and sit back down with the piece of equipment," said Cathy Therrell, Director of Rehab Hospital at Roper. "They advance him as he goes to where he can go up and down stairs and other things."

The program is the first of its kind in the state and one of only 27 in the country that offer the exoskeleton technology, giving those with spinal cord injuries the chance to walk again.

Gorlitsky said he will never forget his second first steps.

"It was pretty emotional on the ride over here," he recalled of the day he first put on the exoskeleton. "It was like I was gaining something that I lost back. It was emotional coming here, but as soon as I stood up it was like I never lost it. It was like I was back in the saddle."

Now, he's back in the saddle and on to bigger things.

"Taking those first steps, I was like 'I think I can do this.' Then, after that, I said bridge run. I want to do other races, skydive, bungee jump, travel. For whatever reason, it's very empowering."

"It's made a big difference in him and made him excited about life and having a goal to attain and I applaud him," added Therrell. "It's really a courageous effort."

Gorlitsky will attempt to be the first paralyzed person to run the Cooper River Bridge Run in April.

It's a lofty goal, but he is focused on the finish line.

"I'm honestly just looking forward to celebrating with my friends and family and just taking walks with people," he said. "I really miss that. I think I'm more anxious to just get out there and be one of the runners and be at everybody's height again."

And if the going gets tough, the tough get going.

"I will stop, take a break, take a little breather, drink some water and just keep going."

He said he won't stop until he's made it all the way across America. He wants to run races all over the U.S.

Click here to support Gorlitsky and his "I Got Legs" initiative to raise money for his exoskeleton.

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