COLORADO SPRINGS — Climbing the Manitou Incline is no easy feat. But on Wednesday, a quadriplegic man who was once told he'd never walk again, climbed to the top of the mountain surrounded by family and friends.
In 1974, Patrick Rummerfield was in a bad car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. He broke his neck in four places, and destroyed 85% of his spinal cord at C4. He remembers the day his father gave him the news while he was at the hospital.
“He said the team of orthopedic neurosurgeons said that you only have 72 hours to live. So I came back with, ‘Well, I guess I shouldn't buy any green bananas,’” said Rummerfield. “Meaning that I wouldn’t be around long enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor,” he added.
72 hours came and went.
“And I was still alive. There is another meeting with the orthopedic neurosurgeons and they said I’d beaten a billion-to-one odd,” said Rummerfield. “They couldn’t figure out how I was still alive.”
Rummerfield recalls a day when he was daydreaming about racing Corvettes and playing basketball, when suddenly, he was able to move one of his toes. After that was a long road to recovery through years of rehabilitation.
“17 years of falling down, getting up, scabby elbows and knees. 17 years later, I found myself sitting on the beach in Hawaii,” said Rummerfield.
17 years later, he was competing in the Hawaii Ironman Triathalon in 1992, ran in the Antarctica marathon in 1997, and then did a 155 mile race across the Gobi Desert in China in 2006. These are just a few of his first. Wednesday, marked his next athletic challenge, as he walked more than 2,700 steps up the Manitou Incline.
“It’s very challenging. If it wasn't, this would be no big deal, right? So being that this is one of the toughest hikes in Colorado, probably in the nation, I hope it draws attention to what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Rummerfield is a walking miracle, defying the odds one step at a time. He is always encouraging people with injuries to set goals and never give up, and he’s also become an inspiration to so many others.
“He’s an inspiration to me every day,” said his wife Barb. “He just sees boundaries as boundaries, and he sets his own. He will push past limitations, and his limitations have been pretty extreme.”
Meanwhile, for Rummerfield, a billion to one odd, turned into a new chance at life.
“There's a lot of kids out there that are facing the same billion to one odds that I myself had. And hopefully this will encourage them to not give up. You know, there's a saying that goes, ‘the only time we fail, is when we quit. Never give up,’” said Rummerfield.
Rummerfield dedicated his hike to help a non-profit called Missouri Kids. It’s an organization in Missouri that supports student athletes who've been seriously injured. For more information about the organization, click here.
For more information about Rummerfield and his adventures, click here.
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