Utica, N.Y. - The 2018 Boilermaker may be best remembered for the perseverance of 40-year-old A.J. Timperlake of West Winfield.
Timperlake suffered a spinal cord injury four years ago during an ATV accident. He has since been working with the staff at Sitrin Health Care Center's STARS (Success Through Adaptive Recreation and Sports) program for individuals with physical disabilities.
On Sunday, Timperlake competed in the Sitrin Wheelchair Challenge in this year's Boilermaker. It was the first time he competed in the event, which provides a racing wheelchair to the participant who can complete the Boilermaker 15K in 2 hours and 15 minutes or less, in his or her own wheelchair that they use at home everyday.
Timperlake completed the 9.3-mile course on Sunday in just over 1 hour 51 minutes, meaning he will get his brand new racing wheelchair sometime in September, but it's how he got to the finish line that is getting praise from so many people.
Timperlake fell forward in his chair with just over a mile to go in the race along Champlin Avenue. He was quickly attended to, but decided just as quickly to get back in his chair and continue on.
During the fall, he thought he might have broken his hip -- and it turns out he did -- but he rode that last one-mile-plus in grand style anyway.
Boilermaker Medical Director Dr. John Detraglia addressed Timperlake's perseverance during Monday morning's post Boilermaker press conference.
"He was pretty courageous through the whole thing," Detraglia said. "I happen to to know this fella a little bit, he really toughed it out for this, I admired that."
Marc DePerno, Director of the Sitrin STARS program has worked with Timperlake ever since his accident four years ago. DePerno says he wasn't surprised to see A.J. coming down Court St. finishing the race.
"I think it's all perspective on life. A.J., having gone through a life situation where he was an active able-bodied individual, experienced a spinal cord injury and now with kind of different mobility with a device using a wheelchair, I don't think that changed his spirit obviously, his mental fortitude, he knew what he wanted to do, he had a goal, he was driven and directed, he accomplish that goal, he conquered the challenge and he's going to get a racing chair."
There is word yet on when Timperlake will have surgery on his hip.
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