A man who was paralyzed on three separate occasions will attempt to walk the Boston Marathon next month, WBZ-TV reports.
What’s the story?
Thomas Smith was a former hockey player who was left paralyzed after a brutal collision on the ice in 2008 caused him severe neck and brain injuries.
Despite being told by doctors that he may be relegated to life in a wheelchair, Smith went through grueling rehab for nine months, recovering to the point of being able to play hockey again.
Four months after returning to hockey, Smith got tangled up with a teammate while doing laps and went head first into the boards, injuring his spine and resulting in another paralysis totally unrelated to the first.
After another few months of difficult rehab, which was more challenging than the first time, Smith was able to stand with a walker after a few months.
Then, he and his father were rear-ended at a red light in 2010, injuring Smith’s back and paralyzing him a third time.
Now, Smith is able to walk with crutches and will attempt to walk 26.2 miles to raise money for the rehab facility, Journey Forward, that helped him regain his ability to stand and walk.
Walking for those who can't
While going through his rehabilitation, Smith struggled with depression, drugs and alcohol. Hockey was everything to him, and it had been taken away.
“Hockey was me,” Smith said. “It was my identity. It was what I was good at and a gateway for me to do better in all facets of my life. I used that growing up.”
Now, 10 years after he first ran the Boston Marathon as an athletic teenager, Smith hopes to cross the finish line once again.
“I was never supposed to be able to do this journey, and here I am,” Smith said to WBZ. “On April 16, I’m going to be the first person with these types of injuries to attempt to walk the Boston Marathon. I’m confident that I’ll be the first to finish. Everyone else that doesn’t have the opportunity to do this, that’s what’s going to get me across the finish line.”