Paralyzed Monroe HS alum & teacher prep as NYC marathon duo
MONROE (Middlesex) — A young man from Middlesex County living with a spinal cord injury is about to do his first ever marathon — being pushed for the entire 26.2 miles by a high school educator.
Mike Nichols and Joe Rooney have been training together for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Sunday, Nov. 3 as part of Team Reeve.
Nichols, who was paralyzed during a high school ice hockey game in 2014, told New Jersey 101.5's Steve Trevelise that he and Rooney are the first ever duo taking on the New York City event for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
As of Wednesday evening, Team Mike and Joe had raised nearly $25,000, closing in on their goal of $30,000.
Nichols was a high school sophomore when he first met Rooney, a language arts teacher at the school.
They bonded over a shared love of music and poetry and so were already acquaintances when Nichols suffered his life-altering spinal cord injury, which made him a quadriplegic.
Nichols said a couple years ago he had mentioned to Rooney that he might want to try hand-cycling someday.
Rooney was already training for a marathon at the time and offered to push him in a race one day, which started the duo on their shared journey.
As part of their preparation, Nichols said he got a specially-designed Hoyt running chair, named for the father and son who have taken part in over 1,000 races including marathons, triathalons and six Ironman races.
Rooney shared a Facebook update on Oct. 14: "Mikey and I hit a new milestone today running a 16.2 miler through the mean streets of Monroe! We progressively dropped the pace for over two hours of rolling."
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.
Mike and Joe are among 50 Team Reeve participants registered for the TCS New York City Marathon, raising funds to make a difference for 5.4 million Americans living with paralysis.
They also are among "the most inspiring runners" highlighted by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) from this year’s TCS New York City Marathon field.
Nichols is a former intern for Trevelise's show on New Jersey 101.5, during which time he shared his story.
He recently graduated from Middlesex County College with his associates degree and recently applied to Rutgers University to pursue a bachelor’s degree while also continuing to go to physical therapy twice a week.
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