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Spinal cord injury victims step toward recovery at Carlsbad event

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  • Spinal cord injury victims step toward recovery at Carlsbad event

    Spinal cord injury victims step toward recovery at Carlsbad event
    By: TOM PFINGSTEN - Staff Writer | Saturday, October 13, 2007 9:03 PM PDT ∞

    Darla Greven of Oregon, who was injured in a car accident with a drunk driver, smiles Saturday as she crosses the finish line after making her first walk since the accident during the Steps of Recovery fundraiser at Project Walk, a spinal cord injury recovery center in Carlsbad.

    CARLSBAD -- Inside an office building in a Carlsbad industrial park Saturday, dozens of people stood up from their wheelchairs and took their first steps all over again.

    Some of the 30 spinal cord injury sufferers -- many of whom were young men who lost feeling in their legs after a car wreck or diving accident -- walked about 25 feet with the help of physical therapists and trainers.

    Others, such as 26-year-old Dan Cummings of Austin, Texas, were further along in their recovery, but marked milestones by walking longer distances.

    "I was told I'd never walk again, never feel anything below my shoulders -- all that stuff," said Cummings, who walked half a mile in a little more than 44 minutes Saturday.

    "It was huge -- probably the furthest I'd ever walked without resting" since he dove into shallow water in June 2000 and broke his back, he said.

    Witnessed by hundreds of friends and family members, the "Steps to Recovery" event was hosted by Project Walk, a nonprofit organization based near McClellan-Palomar Airport that supporters say has a unique method of helping those who have been told they would never walk again beat the odds.

    Inside the center Saturday afternoon, a San Diego news anchor narrated as participants strained to reach the "finish line," while loved ones watched with widely varying emotions.

    Others who are undergoing treatment at the center but are still strictly wheelchair users, watched and cheered, hoping to get their own turn in the spotlight.

    "I don't walk -- not yet," said John Pou, 38, who broke his neck diving over a wave off the coast of North Carolina in August 2005 and relocated with his family to North County last year to receive treatment at Project Walk.