Paralyzed Beaverton man inspires in battle to walk again

Paralyzed Beaverton man inspires in battle to walk again

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by Pat Dooris

Bio | Email | Follow: @PatDoorisKGW

kgw.com

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Updated Thursday, May 3 at 4:30 PM

BEAVERTON -- What would you do if the goals you'd spent your life working toward were suddenly taken away?

Beaverton's Rob Summers has spent the last six years answering that question.

“When I first came to, I thought maybe it was just a bad dream and I'd wake up.  I’d wake up and I kept hoping I’d wake up and it just kept dragging out and I never woke up and was able to realize my worst nightmare," he said.

In the summer of 2006, his Oregon State baseball team had won the National Championship. Summers believed he was on his way to becoming a pitcher in the major leagues. July 12, 2006, in Southeast Portland, he was run down by a driver who never stopped and has not been found to this day.

Summers was paralyzed from the neck down with no feeling in his arms or legs. Doctors said he'd be in a wheelchair forever. “I said well, obviously you guys don’t know me very well because I am gonna stand again. I am gonna walk again, I am gonna play baseball again,” Summers said.

He put action behind the words and was accepted into an experimental program involving spinal stimulation in Kentucky funded in part by the Christopher Reeve foundation.

Two and a half years ago, Summers became the first person in the world to get the implant. After a few weeks of rest, he stood with the help of the device and his own two legs.

“I mean this is, after not having stood for four years and being able to stand after the third day of turning this thing on? I was, I was blown away. I was speechless,” he said. Now Summers is able to stand for as long as 45 minutes at a time.

His journey captured the attention of many including others who are paralyzed. They called and wrote to tell him they were moved and inspired by his battle to walk again.

Summers recently moved from Los Angeles back to his parents home in Beaverton to pursue business opportunities.

He's also become the public face of the Reeve foundation and stars in a new public service announcement that is beginning to air across the country.  He travels extensively.  And he's not forgotten his goals.

“I have no doubt in my mind I will be up walking, running. Definitely walking in 18 months. I have no doubt in my mind about that," he said.

It’s not the life Summers imagined for himself as a 20 year old.  But now, he wouldn’t go back even if he could.

“Would I love to be a professional baseball player? Absolutely. But would I give this opportunity up to help so many? I don’t think I could do it," he said.

To see Rob’s website click here.

To see his PSA at the Reeve Foundation site click here.

If you have story ideas, especially those involving people helping and inspiring our community, email reporter Pat Dooris by clicking here.

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