While competing in the Baltimore Running Festival in 2011, Erin Michael ’05 noticed how few hand cyclists there were in the race. Hand cycles, three-wheeled vehicles powered with the arms instead of the legs, allow people with physical disabilities to compete in traditional running events.
As a physical therapist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Michael helps rehabilitate patients with spinal cord injuries, and it occurred to her during the race that her patients might benefit from participating in it. So she co-created Team Kennedy Krieger, a charity team in the Baltimore Running Festival that encourages patients to get involved in fitness. Seven Kennedy Krieger patients and 209 other supporters participated on the team, and together the group raised over $97,000 for the institute in the first year.
Many of Michael’s patients had never run a 5K—much less a marathon—before their injuries, but with Michael’s persistence, she encouraged many of them to cycle in their first marathon or walk in their first 5K.
“The patients inspire all of us to do things we didn’t think were possible,” she says.
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