Let me tell you a story. No, it’s not the one about golf courses reopening in Massachusetts. That happened a few days ago. This is a story about triumph over tragedy, how a crazy kid drinking and driving turned into a world-class athlete and motivational speaker for quadriplegics. This is the tale of Patrick Rummerfield, this week’s featured October Golf Magazine Hero of the Week.
When he was twenty-one years old, Patrick broke the C4-C6 vertebrae in his neck. He didn’t do it in a athletic accident like many of our previous heroes. He was drinking and driving. 85% of his spinal cord was decimated and he was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctor’s told his family he’d live three days at most. The injury was that bad.
For some of of us, there’s something inside that wakes up when confronted by overwhelming odds. That indomitable spirit was alive in Patrick that night. Refusing to give up, he fought, first to survive and then to recover. Passing on the nursing home option, he started repetitive motion therapy, the same course of treatment employed by Christopher Reeves and our very own Steve Mitchell.
The results were nothing short of a miracle. Patrick learned to walk again and then got behind the wheel once more. He set the land speed record for driving an electric vehicle, a mark that stood for ten years. In 2009, he drag raced professionally at the ADRL World Finals. the first quadriplegic to participate in that event.
From Messed Up to Motivational Speaker
Patrick wrote a book about his life called “Green Bananas.” You can find it on Amazon. His story isn’t just about race car driving. Patrick does Ironman Triathlons and even ran the Antarctic Marathon back in 1997. He’s also a “Patient Community Relations Liaison” at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury and a motivational speaker for paraplegics and quadriplegics around the world.
Though his drunken driving accident is many years behind him, Patrick talks about it often, calling it a “huge mistake” and an “irresponsible action.” He takes full responsibility for it and doesn’t shy away from telling his story to help others overcome their own adversity and addictions. Once a messed up kid, Patrick is now an inspiration to others. That’s why we chose him this week.