Quadriplegic to run 15K Gate River Run on blades

Published On: Jan 05 2013 12:00:00 AM EST   Updated On: Mar 08 2013 12:10:00 PM EST

A young man who now has blades for feet is set to run the Gate River Run.

Last April, Steven Walker was a healthy, happy 28 year old. The very next day he was hooked up to machines clinging to life.

"April 15th I had a healthy son. April 16th they had me say goodbye to him in the emergency room." said Walker's mother, Barbara Gilbert.

Doctors spent days trying to figure out what was causing Steven's organs to shut down. They discovered a rare bacteria never before seen in Florida.

By amputating his legs below the knee and his hands, they were able to save Steven's life. The road to recovery has been long, but the finish line is in site: completing the Gate River Run.

"I like to have a challenge and the 15K is right up my alley. A 5K or 10K probably wasn't enough," Walker said. "I wanted something to challenge me physically and mentally."

Walker just received carbon-fiber prosthetics three months ago that will make running this race possible. He now runs, plays quad rugby and soccer with Brooks Rehabilitation.

Before he was stuck by the bacteria, Walker ran the five River Runs. He knows this one will be by far the most challenging.

"It will be a major accomplishment. I can't say it's going to be as easy as it was when I did it in the past. It's going to be the hardest I've ever done." Walker said.

A few weeks ago he shocked his family and his doctors by telling them he was going to do the 15K rather than the Brooks 1 mile race or the 5K.

"They wondered whether or not I could finish it. They encouraged me to do the Brooks one miler. One mile is just a little too easy for me." Walker said. "I like to have a challenge and the 15K is right up my alley. A 5K or 10K probably wasn't enough. I wanted something to challenge me physically and mentally."

He is even surprising himself along the way.

"I'm surprised by a lot of things I've accomplished. From day you have a lot of doubt and you go through these things. Kind of amazed that they are happening now. Didn't know they would happen so early."

At the starting line, Walker will have plenty of company. His mother and his brother, Robert, are running Saturday.  Walker has his sights set on beating one of them in the race.

"I will start out with him, but Steven has already told me he is going to put me in the dust," his mom said. "He said 'I know one thing, I will be standing upright and maybe walking, and I'm going to cross that finish line and finish.'"


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