Before 19-year-old Matt Brown was paralyzed, he never liked running. “I absolutely hated it,” he recalls. “I just hated sprints at the end of practice.”
But after one fateful hockey game in 2010, Brown was never able to run again. He slammed headfirst into the boards, breaking his C4 and C5 vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. He spent three weeks in intensive care at a Boston hospital. Once he was stabilized, he was transferred to an Atlanta rehab facility specializing in spinal injuries. It was there that Lucas Carr walked into his life.
An Army Ranger who had been stationed near the rehab facility and a fellow native of Norwood, Mass., Carr knew Matt’s parents from years ago when he did odd jobs for them as a teen. When he heard about their son’s injury, he was determined to get involved. “I had just gotten out of the Army when his accident happened, and I connected with him personally,” he recalls. “You look at a young kid who had everything stripped away from him at 15 years old, but he’s always stuck by the motto of ‘Never quit.’”
The following year, Carr got the idea that he and Matt should start doing marathons together. He had run several marathons on his own, and he was inspired by Dick Hoyt, a father who had pushed his quadriplegic son, Rick, in more than 1,000 races.
Matt, who hated running before he was injured, wasn’t initially excited by the idea. “I was hesitant at first,” he recalls. But he quickly changed his mind once he got on the road. “It’s really fun and really cool to be able to get pushed and feel that sense of the wind in my face, feel the sense of running again. I’m a lot closer to running than I ever thought I’d get back to. I just love being out there.”
In 2012, the New York Road Runners said the duo couldn’t participate, citing a rule that says all participants must propel themselves. They said the same for the 2013 race. Carr turned to the press and social media, drawing an outcry. Days later, NYRR recanted, citing the fact that Carr had helped victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, after running the race himself (without Matt) and finishing just before the explosions. (from a nypost report)
Matt and Lucas’ message: “Don’t let anything hold you back. Nothing. Nothing at all. If you want to do something, put your mind to it and do it.” On the back of their shirts the words Never Quit. “Just never quiet. That’s what we have to express to everyone. Never quit,” Matt says.