Virginia Tech seniors Lindsay Bouchard and James Cook will be competing in the 2013 Baltimore Running Festival Saturday, October 12th to help raise money for the Kennedy Krieger Institute for Spinal Cord Injury in Baltimore, Md. The institute serves 20,000 individuals each year and is internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal system.
Cook, a mechanical engineering major, is considering graduate school for the upcoming year. Bouchard, a human development major, plans to enter a physician's assistant program.
In October of 2010 Cook, a former VT Naval ROTC cadet, at the age of 19, was paralyzed in a car accident while being transported with four other Echo Company cadets. He will be competing in the full marathon (26 miles) with the use of a hand cycle. This will be Cook's first marathon since being in a wheelchair, though he has continued his passion for sports these past three years participating in both wheelchair basketball and wheelchair lacrosse.
Bouchard and Cook have been an inseparable couple since meeting as ninth graders at Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Md. They trained for the marathon this past summer and are looking forward to the event. Because of the pace differences between Cook on a hand cycle and Bouchard on foot, Bouchard's running partner was often Cook's two year old german shepherd, Tally. The pet helped her maintain a strong and consistent running speed for her half marathon.
Cook visits the Kennedy Krieger Institute for physical therapy several times a year and has seen firsthand the excellent work being done at the institute.
"As someone who has spent a great deal of time at Kennedy Krieger since about 2011, I can tell you it's been emotionally uplifting for my family and me to see their compassion and drive as they work with children (and adults.) It gives you a completely different perspective on life and makes you realize anything is possible," said Cook.
As part of the 2013 Kennedy Krieger charity team, Cook, Bouchard, and the other participants aim to increase the number of Kennedy Krieger patients participating in the races each year, open the door to improved physical fitness for those with disabilities, and fund research towards a cure for paralysis.
If you would like to sponsor either Bouchard or Cook, visit Kennedy Krieger Institute's Team Page and click on Sponsor a Participant. Search for both Bouchard and Cook's pledge pages by first and last name.
Contact: Maria Cook