Tuesday’s Grand Blue Mile drew over 4,000 participants but not all of them ran the course.
By anyone’s measure, it’s a mile – anyone’s but Tom Ostwald’s.
“I thought there’s no way–there’s no way!” he said.
But there he was competing against nothing but his own broken body—and against the odds that have been stacked against him since December of 2012 when he fell off a ladder at home.
“The bad thing about spinal cord injuries is there’s no textbook,” Ostwald said.
There is only the ultimate goal of walking again and countless hours of painful steps taken toward it.
“He’s done more and gotten back more than anybody thought,” said his wife, Pat, “and so when he said he was gonna walk it, I knew he would push himself and make it happen.”
He got some help from his best friend, Ron Reefer, who remodeled Tom’s home to accommodate his wheelchair, and built this special walker just for today.
“We went with inflated wheels with a bigger diameter,” Ron said, “so it’ll go across the cracks a little better. No chance of getting stuck.”
The mile takes 45 minutes, but although the wheelchair is right there with him, Ostwald never uses it.
Savoring the cheers of the crowd and the company of those who’ve helped him every step of the way, he crossed the finish line.
Ostwald has earned a moment to rest but, as usual, he’s ready to move on.
“I have therapy at 3:45 tomorrow afternoon so, I’m sure I’ll have more goals so, mark this one off!” Ostwald said.
More than 4,000 people took part in this Grand Blue Mile. But for one of them, it was just another step.