Paralyzed man completes Portland half marathon

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Adam Gorlitsky is paralyzed from the waist down — but that’s not stopping him from participating in the Portland half marathon. 

At 19, Gorlitsky hurt his spine in a car accident and lost his ability to walk at all.  

Adam Gorlitsky is walking the Portland half marathon using a battery operated exo-skeleton. (KOIN)

“I spent ten years of my life paralyzed,” he said. “Three years ago I was introduced to this ReWalk robotic exoskeleton.”

He said it’s like the lower half of a Terminator suit.

“There’s a sensor right here in each hip of the exoskeleton that picks up the movement of my abs and hips, which then kicks in a motor within the abs itself,” he explained.

Gorlitsky, who founded the non-profit I Got Legs, will use the battery-powered exo-skeleton to walk the the 13.1 mile race.

Adam Gorlitsky is walking the Portland half marathon using a battery operated exo-skeleton. (KOIN) 

He expected it would take anywhere from 15 to 20 hours, but time isn’t much of an issue for him because every step is a miracle. 

He got a head start on the route Saturday night. About 20 hours later, Gorlitsky crossed the finish line, becoming the first paralyzed man in the United States to complete a half marathon.

“To be a paralyzed man walking in a race, that just doesn’t even sound possible, right?” he said. 

But he didn’t just do it to make history. Gorlitsky is raising money for I Got Legs.

“Whatever empowers the disabled community, we’re helping to fundraise for,” he said. “So exoskeletons, hand cycles, all other forms of mobility technology.”

He said people in Portland have been reaching out to offer support. 

“Everybody’s been super supportive so I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. 

Now that it’s done, Adam will finally be able to catch up on other things, like sleep.

“I haven’t slept since, like, 8am yesterday,” he said, admitting he had to battle through sleep deprivation to complete the half marathon. 

More about Adam’s story

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