When biomedical engineering senior Jake Javier jumped into a swimming pool on his last day of high school in 2016 he broke his neck.

“I was immediately paralyzed, and flown by helicopter to the nearest hospital and underwent emergency surgery to stabilize my neck and then was put on a ventilator because my lungs collapsed,” Javier said.

After two weeks in the ICU and a few months in Santa Clara, Calif. Javier moved to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo. where he spent eight  months in rehabilitation. 

This Saturday, Sept. 26, Javier will roll a half marathon, 13.1 miles, in his wheelchair to raise money for Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo.

YouTube video
Video by Lauren Kozicki

The annual fundraiser, Pedal for Possible, is normally held in Colorado, but because of COVID-19 the event is being held virtually and allows anyone to do their own race where they choose. Javier has chosen to take his course on the Bob Jones Trail in Avila. 

“It’s only like a five miles trail, so I’m going to be doing it like two and a half times,” Javier said.

His goal is to complete it in about two and a half hours while going as fast as he can without stopping, he said. The farthest he has gone so far in training has been eight miles non-stop. 

“With the amount of support I’ve received so far I feel like I really owe it to everyone and myself to do my best,” Javier said.  

Javier signed up for the fundraiser on Aug. 8 and decided to open his donation page on Aug. 27. 

“Immediately my phone and email just blew up and I had over 300 emails from donations coming in,” Javier said. 

He promoted his page via Instagram and Facebook. Between Javier’s donation page and his personal Venmo account he’s raised about $26,000. 

“In my head, I was thinking maybe I could do a good amount, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high so I just set my goal on the website originally as $1,500,” Javier said. “I had to change that a lot. … Right now it’s set to $30,000.” 

Javier estimates that there have been at least 300 different people that have contributed, including a mix between his friends and family.

“A lot of friends from SLO have helped contribute which is really cool because I know it’s just a bunch of college kids,” Javier said “I’ve seen large donations from families of friends.”

Audio by Maya MacGregor

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