Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marchin' On

Mile Marker 165:

I can’t believe it’s taken me a week to write this blog post!   But Mile 165 was HUGE, and I wanted to get it just right.

How could I possibly capture the energy of Mile 165?

The pure POWER created by such a crowd!   The positive charge that emanated from our starting line!  The sidewalk, radiant with light! 

It drowned out any shadow of sadness that afternoon.   

5th and Washington didn’t even feel like the same place.

How many friends and family members came out to walk!  But even more awesome than their number was the distance they’d traveled.  How far they’d come across both SPACE and TIME. 

From Baltimore, D.C., and Vermont.  From college and elementary school.   From my earliest skating days.

And what’s more, there were parallel walks, and bike rides, and even SWIMS going on across the country!

My friend Marla walked down in Nashville.  And she sent me a card with this message:  Not only was your life changed on November 9, 2010, but your friends’ and families’ lives were forever changed, too.

I knew she missed walking in Philly on Saturday, but it was really her distance that made me realize something.

That this accident -- that one moment of impact last November -- had become a stone that created INFINITE RIPPLES across the water.

One year later, I’m still reeling from its effects.   But are my friends, too??

As we gathered on that street corner, a passing garbage truck stopped to ask what was going on.  It idled at the entrance to 5th Street, just yards from where the one had stopped last year. 

I watched as some of my skater friends spoke to the driver.  They explained what the crowd was all about and told him why we were here.  And then he drove off, as if washed away by our energy. 

But I wonder if that conversation pushed the RIPPLE out just a little bit farther.  If our experience has now become his, too.  And I wonder who it might touch next.

Mile 165 was a commemorative walk.  It began at the scene of the accident and ended at my home.  A route designed in reverse, as if it could somehow undo the events of the last year.

It couldn't, of course.

But as we left behind our shells and stones, I left behind a little bit of that spirit that haunts me.

Most days, I’m caught up in the roughness of my own sea.  I paddle through the waves with the help of family, friends and a whole team of professionals.   But in the evening, the tide always comes rolling in.   The undertow tugs at me.  Take a look at your body, it says.  Take a look at your life.  Your future.

Mile 165 was my FASTEST mile so far.  There was gravel in the road, a cracked sidewalk by the park, and a messy work zone on Front Street.  But none of it scared me or slowed me down.   

Instead I was buoyed along by a new current.  A lighter, friendlier, and HAPPIER one than my old whirling sea.   One created by all of our collective energy.

Afterward, we celebrated to the tune of my Dad’s hamburgers, drinks, and lots of cookies (but not the angry kind!).

We cheered on LIFE and LOVE and WALKING!  

When everyone went home, there was a pause in all the turbulence of celebration.   

I felt a strange mix of relief.  The year is over.

And disappointment.   I still have only one leg.

Yet also at that moment, I knew Mile 165 had carried me across some invisible line.  A divide between the Atlantic and Pacific, maybe.  Into new waters that might float me toward a different destination.

My thoughts drifted back to earlier that afternoon standing outside my house with friends.

“Do WATER MILES count?” my friend Gare-Mo asked.  He’s a paddler, and we were gauging whether or not I could log a few miles in his Dragon Boat on the Schuylkill.

“Of course they count!”  I said.  

You are my friends and my family.
Your ripples reach me, too.

And no matter how rough or how wide this ocean, we’re in it together.

Marchin' on!

Watch the video here:

(I mean, wherever you walked... from sea to shining sea!!!)

And thanks to Susan, Jen, Chase, Mark, and Dad for so many amazing photos and videos!


  1. "...and I wanted to get it just right."

    Well, you got it just right!

    Uncle Steve

  2. Amazing video....again!! And amazing progress!! Keep marching on, and I'll do my best to keep up!

  3. I DID feel the energy! Great walk and great video. I didn't want it to end.

  4. Love the video! We will keep marching on - no matter where that march takes us. We are in this together and have been 28 years!

  5. What a wonderful day Mile 165 was! I'm so moved by your experience as are so many others. You're so right - the ripples reach much further than we initially imagine. Keep marching on and we will be there with you!