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White Plains Burke Hosts 32nd Wheelchair Games

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Kevin McDermott, who broke his neck while diving into a pool approximately three years ago, has used the annual Wheelchair Games to gauge his progress first as a patient at the White Plains Burke Rehabilitation Center and now as an outpatient.

The first year McDermott, 24, of Long Island, competed in a wheelchair. Last year his parents walked beside him. This Saturday he walked half of the 60 meter race with support from a walker, propelled himself through the last 30 meters in a wheelchair, and crossed the finish line on foot.

"This year I did it by myself. So every year I kind of showed my progress to everyone. It's nice to not have to rely on anyone," McDermott said after the race.

Doctors initially told McDermott he had a two percent chance of regaining his movement, however, he never had doubts about recovering some of his mobility. After two-and-a-half months, McDermott could stand, five months later he took his first step.

Now, Mcdermott goes to physically therapy twice a week at Burke, devises his own workout plan, and continues to push forward.

"My immediate goal is to be able to walk outside of a car into a restaurant and back to the car again with a walker," he said.

More than 50 athletes joined McDermott in competing in the 32nd annual Wheelchair Games at Burke this Saturday. Participants of all ages and physical abilities competed in table tennis, javelin, shot put, club throw, a slalom obstacle course, and track races ranging from 60 meters to 1,500 meters.

First time athletes and experienced competitors, including Linus Pagano, signed up for Saturday's races.

Pagano, an All-American High School Paralympic Track & Field athlete, said the Burke's high-quality track helped him finish the 1,500 meter race in four minutes and 11 seconds.

"I'm not a sprinter. I like to go for long distances," said Pagano, 16, of Brookfield, Conn., who started racing when he was 11. "I just like doing it. It definitely takes time to get used to the chair. My first race I fell over a lot."

Pagano attended the Wheelchair Games with several of his teammates from Hospital for Special Care's Cruisers track and field team.

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