Paralyzed Solider Finishes Marathon On Crutches
Disabled Veteran Completes London Marathon...
British soldier, Maj. Phil Packer, was told a year ago that he would never walk again, but on last Saturday, he finished the London Marathon.
Packer started the 26.2 mile marathon with the rest of the competitors on Sunday 26th April, however it took a grueling 13 days for him to complete the course.
After 13 days of walking on crutches for two miles a day – the most his doctor would allow – Packer crossed the finish line on Saturday 9th May.
Packer decided to help raise money for charity whilst recovering in hospital after being badly injured in the aftermath of a rocket attack on his base in Basra, Iraq, in February 2008.
Packer was struck by a tumbling vehicle which dragged him for some distance. The incident left the 36-year-old with no feeling or motor control in his legs, and no bladder or bowel control.
The doctors immediate diagnosis was that Packer would never walk again, but after four months in hospital, he decided to complete three challenges to raise £1 million ($1.5 million) for Help for Heroes, a British charity supporting wounded veterans.
In February he rowed the English Channel. The London Marathon was his second accomplishment, and next month, he plans to climb the famous 3,000-foot vertical rock formation in California, El Capitan.
Thousands of people from fellow soldiers to royalty have expressed their support for Packer. British Olympian, Steven Redgrave was there to greet the soldier at the finish line. Full of emotion after completing the course Packer said:
“I’ve walked 52,400 steps and somebody has walked with me every step of the way, be it a dinner lady, a London taxi driver or a Metropolitan Police officer.”
Britons heir to the throne, Prince Charles wrote in a letter posted on Packer’s Web site:
“You are, if I may say so, a credit to the Royal Military Police and to the British Army as a whole.”
Spurred on by fellow soldiers and hundreds of supporters, Packer has totaled more than half of his 1 million target, and his hopeful more donations will roll in.
“It’s looking after our injured servicemen….There’s a lot of people that can’t do this, so this is for them…
“I wanted to do something for other personnel who had been wounded…
“I don’t want to be helped. I want to help other people. Not that I’m not grateful, but… you know… I really want to be able to help people.”
Packer attributes his recovery to the “fantastic medical support” from Britain’s Ministry of Defense and National Health Service. However he is still not sure if he will regain 100% mobility in his legs.
“So many improvements are being made” in medicine, he said. “It’s an evolving process.”
With 16 years service under his belt, Packer is still on active duty and intends to remain so: “I’ve still got a career in the armed forces. I’m going to go back to it.”
He has now been asked to be an ambassador for Prince Charles’ charity, the Prince’s Trust, which focuses on helping young people.
After his two-week effort, Packer was asked whether he would be relaxing in a warm bath.
No, he said, “I’m going to have a drink.” And with that, the army major lifted a shot glass and toasted his supporters.
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