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Steve Ferro Recovery

July 18, 2012
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By JFL

This is about Steve Ferro, who is a friend now paralyzed from the sternum-area down. The following is from an email I wrote out to a group of people. "Barb" is Barb Giroux, who is the most spirited person on the planet, and she maintains an email list of about 40 people who she emails every morning, passing as much good energy as you could possibly pass through an email. "Pranam" is my brother, who created a FundRazr Donation page for Steve Ferro at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/4JlA9. The goal is to raise $5,000 for Steve. Email:

To everyone who still doesn't really understand the chatter about this kid Steve Ferro, he's from small-town Cheshire, MA, even smaller than Adams, MA, which is where I grew up, along with Pranam, my brother, and numerous other people on this list that Barb's known through working in Adams and being part of Lipinski extended family.

Steve is a go-getter to the fullest, going from a champion track athlete in high school to someone who attended Umass-Amherst with the intent of competing in track there. Instead, he got discouraged by some nagging injuries and started working out more in the gym.

The fall semester of this past year was his last and his goal was to become a physical therapist. He loved - LOVED - just being outside, playing football, basketball, running, whatever, so you could call him a) somewhat of an adrenaline lover and b) someone who loved to push his limits. Somewhere along the line, he ended up buying a motorcycle, and a few mths ago during the Easter wkend, he crashed it on Rt 116 in Conway, MA, which is one of the most winding roads you could ever know. He was traveling between his parents house in Cheshire and his apartment near Amherst, MA. Here is a link to an article about the crash: http://www.gazettenet.com/2012/04/09/cheshire-man-hospitalized-after-crashing-motorcycle (article now requires a subscription)

So now the physical therapist-in-training, always-ready-to-play, level-headed Steve Ferro is paralyzed from his chest down. Nevermind heading out there for a run, but now walking and the bathroom and whatever other simple tasks that are second nature are a challenge. And this is not someone who was unorganized and aimless in his life, he knew that he wanted to be healthy and wanted to have a career pushing others to their best health as well.

Here's a link to a team photo in a football league in Greenfield I played in this past winter with Ferro. He's all the way on the right. http:// www.flickr.com/photos/jlipin3/6857912483/

Just msg'ing him back & forth with some support, he always gets back with a good attitude, some "lol", and saying he's giving it everything he's got to the rehab. He could regain some control of his body, and realistically, he may not. It's just all in the cards at this pt.

For a quick second, just say a prayer that Steve maintains his attitude to attack his rehab sessions and improves!!

Literally, stand up for someone who can't do so on their own right now.

Update: I sent Steve a copy of the DVD Without Limits, a fave flick about the running life of Steve Prefontaine, the original rockstar runner. This coincided with my dad sending Steve this poster:
I'm a huge runner and my dad still owns a handful of track records at my old high school. So Ferro and my dad had some good conversations about running through the years.

Steve was psyched to get both the movie and the poster. And through all of this, he realizes that he's still got "the gift". What gift, you say? He's paralyzed, right? So his gift is gone. No, actually, "the gift" is life. Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman, also Steve Prefontaine's tough-love mentor, gives this resonating quote in the movie: "If you can find meaning in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team, chances are you'll be able to find meaning in that other observed pastime - life."

Well, bottom line, running takes a lot of guts, and it involves sacrifices for the greater pursuits of fitness, personal breakthrough, and victory. Champions are champions only by making it habit to give their best in everything they do - not just running. And if you can find reward in applying that to the rest of your life, then you've just found meaning in life. So Steve Ferro, still blessed with "the gift," can now redirect his energy to plenty of other things, where he will continue to find meaning and rich reward in his life.

Steve Ferro is formally an "A" on the ASIA Impairment Scale (http://www.spinalcordinjuryzone.com/answers/9243/what-is-asia-impairment-scale). Without a medical breakthrough like stem-cell treatment, it's doubtful his spinal cord would heal itself at the severance point, and he'll be paralyzed below the chest for the rest of his physical life. The attitude he's got though is nothing short of amazing considering what he's gone through. Since he was a champion runner in high school, and was looking to play semi-pro football this summer, the inability to use his legs has him redirecting his energy to hand cycling. He's got an eye on a hand-cycling bike, and over the phone, said to me, "I know this might be a stretch, but I was just thinking, how cool would it be if I'm at the Paralympic Games in 2016, competing as one of those hand cyclists. That's my goal, that's what I'm aiming for." Donate to Steve's Recovery Fund, which would help him buy a hand cycle (THEY'RE EXPENSIVE!! A few thousand dollars), at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/4JlA9.

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