Updated: Jan 21, 2020
Mikey Nichols first met Mr. Rooney as a sophomore in Monroe Township High School, and they quickly became friends through their love of rap. During Mikey’s senior year, he suffered a spinal cord injury while playing ice hockey in January of 2014, a little over 5 years ago. This injury caused him to become quadriplegic, a paralysis that results in partial or total loss of the use of the limbs and the torso. In Mikey’s case, he can’t feel anything from the chest down.
Throughout all the challenges, Mr. Rooney has encouraged Mikey allowing the friendship to grow. To support him this year, Mr. Rooney told Mikey that he would love to do the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon with him as he is an active runner. So, the two competed in the duo-team category with Mr. Rooney pushing him in a wheelchair meant for racing.
They worked with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for the race. The Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injuries. They fund research to try and improve the lives of people who are paralyzed. Grants and advocating information on the subject is the first step on delivering important and effective treatments to cure millions of people’s spinal cord injuries.
As a way to raise money to show our support, our school had sold shirts. The website https://give.reeve.org/fundraiser/2287902 are also collecting donations. They have raised over $44,000 already so far from this event, and although the race has finished, donations are still coming through!
It’s important to see that no matter what Mikey has been through, he went to compete and train to raise money to make sure that other people, with similar injuries, could live easier lives. It definitely gives people hope; to a person who is paralyzed but also to anyone who wants to conquer anything.
Of course, the effort put in to even do the marathon of 26 miles was tremendous. There was a lot of training that went into it. Mr. Rooney has run many races previously, like the Philadelphia Marathon. But, pushing a wheelchair while running, even for an impressive runner, needs training. They had gradually increased their distance, eventually competing in the Jersey Shore Half-Marathon as a test.
The NYC Marathon was next up. They had finished the race in 3 hours and 51 minutes, achieving an amazing accomplishment. There was so much support from fellow runners and people on the sidelines, motivating the duo to continue and giving them uplifting support.
But, the run didn’t quite go without any hiccups. Just 2 miles before the end, Mr. Rooney suddenly felt a tremendous amount of pain in his hamstring. Although it might’ve seemed like that was it, he stretched it out and continued, eventually crossing the finish line.
The New York City Marathon is not the end of Mikey Nichols’ effort to make a difference. He, along with Mr. Rooney, will continue spreading awareness and raising donations. Mikey’s ideal end goal is to gain enough support and donations to create an epidural stimulation that helps those paralyzed regain feeling externally as well as the use of basic functions.
“I’m doing this for people in this condition who don’t have the wonderful support system that I do.”
Our community is so proud of Mikey & Mr. Rooney!