‘The only time we fail is when we quit:’ Fully-functioning quadriplegic to hike Manitou Incline
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Patrick Rummerfield was once told he only had a few days to live.
“I better not buy any green bananas,” Patrick recalled what he said to his father soon after a car crash in 1974 that nearly claimed his life.
Patrick was only 21 when his life was changed forever. Patrick explained that when he was in a hospital bed and his father was first talking with him, doctors didn’t expect Patrick to live past the week. The phrase about green bananas was what came to Patrick’s mind, at first. The idea that he wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor. His father was relaying information from doctors that he wouldn’t make it past 72 hours.
“The tears were squirting out of his eyes onto my face. I was paralyzed from the neck down,” Patrick said remembering what it was like hearing the news from his dad.
Three days passed. Patrick was still alive.
Patrick says doctors were baffled and the odds of him surviving were a billion to one. The news didn’t get much better after those first three days. Patrick was then told he would be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life. Patrick made the move to southern California to learn how to use an electric wheelchair with only his mouth. That was just one of many steps Rummerfield took in his recovery.
“One day after training, I was laying there daydreaming about playing basketball and racing Corvettes, when all of a sudden my left big toe moved,” Rummerfield said as he talked about his early days in a wheelchair. “From that point on all I focused on was that toe ... I’ll start big-toe competitions, and I’ll have every quadriplegic in this trying to break each other’s records on who can lift the most with that big toe.”
After some more time training with just his left big toe, other toes started “flickering” for Patrick. Another step in the right direction.
“Seventeen years of falling down, getting up, scabby elbows and knees, taught me that you got to make goals and you got to go after them,” Patrick stated. “I put in 17 years of incredible hours in physical therapy. Seventeen years later after my accident, I found myself sitting on the beach in Hawaii getting ready to participate in the IronMan Race of Champions. One of the most grueling races in the world.”
Patrick didn’t come in last in the IronMan competition, an incredible feat in his eyes and the eyes of many. Another massive step from a man who was told he would never walk again.
Patrick has taken step after step. He was one of the first to run a marathon in Antarctica. He overcame a 155-mile foot race across the Gobi Desert in China.
Patrick’s next step: hiking the Manitou Incline in Colorado. The Incline feature more than 2,700 steps at high altitude. The challenge isn’t just for himself. Patrick is raising money for Missouri KIDS, an organization that helps student athletes in the State of Missouri who have suffered permanent disabling injuries. Click here for more on how you can give. He also has a message for anyone with a spinal injury.
“The only time we fail is when we quit,” Patrick said a day before he took on the Incline. “Don’t quit. Don’t quit. Never give up. Never give in. You have to develop that iron will so you will always win.”
Patrick is scheduled to start the Manitou Incline Wednesday morning. He’s hoping to finish in under two hours and KKTV 11 News plans on being there to cover his next step in life as he overcomes challenge after challenge.
Watch the full interview with Patrick below:
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