ARLINGTON, VA (WUSA9) - For Adam Gorlitsky, every single step of the Marine Corps Marathon will be a miracle. The South Carolina man is paralyzed from the waist down.
“You know what's funny?” he said. “I've just been sitting here smiling the whole time.”
Gorlitsky has leaped more obstacles than most of us. On his way home from college 11 years ago, he fell asleep for just a moment behind the wheel of his dad's SUV.
Doctors told him he'd never walk again.
“It's really like the whole world crashed down,” he said. “It really took some time to figure out this new life without legs.”
But now Gorlitsky has legs again. An amazing $80,000 exoskeleton of braces, motors, sensors and computer allows him to walk.
“I'm feeling good,” Gorlitsky said. “Hips and small oblique muscles I still have control over.”
So this weekend, he'll walk the last 10 kilometers of the Marine Corps Marathon to become the first paralyzed person to ever stride across the finish line.
“It’s like a miracle, an $85,000 miracle,” he said. “That's not yet covered by insurance. We're going to hopefully make that a reality for everybody.”
It will take him about six hours to go 6.2 miles, and it’s not easy. But every step fills his dad with pride.
“Celebration of the worst day of my life,” said his dad, Stan. “That's what it is.”
Gorlitsky’s started a non-profit foundation, I Got Legs, to help millions of other Americans with paralysis.
“You'd like them to have this same feeling, absolutely. I feel like I’m part of life again,” he said.
Gorlitsky said there are fewer than a dozen people with the exoskeletons in the U.S. right now, but that he’d walk a million steps for a cure.