Fultonville native Trevor Comeau considers himself lucky, in a way. When he suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury in 2010, he never heard that medical drama cliche, “You’ll never walk again.”
“A lot of people with spinal cord injuries are told they have a 1 percent or a 3 percent chance of ever walking again or ever doing this or that,” the 33-year-old said Friday. “So they’re told a negative right from the start and then they get down on themselves. But I was never told by a doctor what percent chance I had to walk or move.”
Comeau is at the heart of the What Would Trevor Do Run n’ Roll 5K, coming up on its fourth year Aug. 30 at Saratoga Spa State Park. The event helps raise funds for Comeau’s medical expenses, including his intensive physical therapy program in California.
Last year, according to race director Sam Gonzalez, about 125 to 150 participants and other sponsors raised about $12,000. The first two years raised about $7,000, he said.
“He puts so much work in and you can see the progress,” Gonzales said of Comeau’s therapy. “Before, he was not even able to get up or drink out of a cup, now he’s able to move his arms and legs. It just makes him more independent.”
Comeau, who currently lives in Ohio, injured his head and neck in an accident while out on the ocean during a vacation with his girlfriend in Jamaica, nearly resulting in drowning.
He was treated initially in a hospital in Jamaica, then spent about a month of recovery in Florida. At the hospital, in a power wheelchair and only able to move his hands, he told his doctor he planned to walk out. That’s usually the point in the story where the doctor scoffs.
“When I told him that I was planning on walking out of the hospital, he was like ‘OK. We’ve got some work to do, but we’ll give it a shot,’ ” Comeau said.
He didn’t walk out of that hospital, but he’s been making steady, determined gains ever since, with the help of the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in Northern New Jersey and then Project Walk, an “intense, activity-based recovery program” in California. From there, he followed his trainer to StridesSCI, another clinic in California.
The aggressive approach of Program Walk and StridesSCI suits Comeau, a standout high school wrestler and football player who went on to wrestle in college.
“He’s always been a fighter, he’s always been an athlete, he’s always been not someone to just give up,” said Gonzalez. “He still gives 110 percent each time.”
Comeau has been back and forth between Fultonville, Ohio and California for therapy over the past five years as he has the funds for it. Gonzalez and his wife have organized the run for the past four years with a team of volunteers and sponsors to help keep him going.
“Their support is what drives me to continue to improve,” Comeau said.
Now, he’s in a manual wheelchair and is working on standing at a walker. He and Gonzales said they plan to continue the 5K, and hopefully grow it, as long as Comeau needs the support. After that, ideally, the event will raise funds for the recovery of others with spinal cord injuries.
“I don’t really have a goal of, ‘I need to walk again,’ ’’ Comeau said. “Obviously I would love to be able to walk again, to be able to go for a run or anything like that, but I really just want to be more independent.”
Registration starts at 9 a.m. at the warming hut pavilion at Saratoga Spa State Park and the run kicks off at 10. For more information about the 5K or how to volunteer, visit www.runnroll5k.com or email Gonzalez at [email protected]
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