Michael LaRose of Bay Shore, New York was recently awarded a $2,500 scholarship for an Invacare Top End Force 3 Handcycle.
In 2014, at age 23, Michael was riding his motorcycle to work in Seattle when an oncoming driver failed to see him and turned left in front of him. The crash resulted in Michael breaking his T5/T6 vertebrae, as well as suffering from traumatic brain injury; severely lacerated left neck; two broken ribs; broken left femur and collapsed lungs. He has no memory of the accident.
Prior to his injury, Michael worked at Elliott Bay Design Group as a Naval Architect, designing and supporting the operation of ships. He led an extremely active lifestyle; working out daily, riding his bicycle to work or running several times per week. An avid longboarder/skateboarder, Michael also enjoyed snowboarding in the winter.
“My level of activity post-injury was significantly reduced; however, I tried to remain as active as possible,” notes Michael. “My routine included full stretching; modified body weight and theraband/theratube exercises; physical therapy twice a week; and pushing myself around my neighborhood in my wheelchair for a mile or so.”
Earlier this year, Michael attended a two-week camp run by Empower SCI at Stony Brook University, and fell in love with handcycling. “While riding on the handcycle, I felt the same exhilaration I had when biking or longboarding prior to my injury,” recalls Michael. “The thrill of moving quickly again under my own power and feeling the wind in my face erased fear that my injury had permanently taken that away from me.”
After receiving his handcycle in the fall, Michael and his family were able to ride bikes together at local parks several times per week. Once the New York winter is over, he plans to return to riding, building his endurance, and looking for events and competitions to take part in.
“The cost of a handcycle was a big hindrance to me, and when I received news of my award, I was beyond thrilled!” recalls Michael. “Having access to a handcycle will keep me healthier and much more active than I could have been without one. I have nothing but great thanks and a lifetime of respect for Will2Walk!”
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The Will2Walk Scholarship & Sponsorship Program is designed to provide funding to individuals and qualified organizations that exemplify how those with spinal cord injuries can live a healthy, active and independent lifestyle. If you or someone you know could benefit from the Will2Walk Scholarship & Sponsorship Program, details can be found at Will2Walk.org.