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Competitive Team Reeve Spirit

Stephen Emt used his competitive spirit to complete the 2010 ING New York City Marathon for Team Reeve

Stephen Emt used his competitive spirit to complete the 2010 ING New York City Marathon for Team Reeve

By: Janelle LoBello

Name: Stephen Emt
Injury: C5, C6
Mechanism of Injury: Automobile accident

Stephen Emt, 40, rolled right through the 2010 ING New York City Marathon and raised nearly $7,000 for Team Reeve. Emt, who was spinal cord injured when he was 25-years-old in a motor vehicle accident, is a member of the Team Reeve Connecticut.

Though Emt had trained and completed the five-mile Achilles Hope and Possibility Marathon in spring 2010, his training schedule for the New York City Marathon was a new challenge.

Many, many more miles
"I made a lot of friends that run and that run marathons," says Emt. "So, I went to them for advice. They gave me great advice for the distances. I got in a routine doing anywhere from 60 to 80 miles a week."

While hand cycling 60-80 miles a week might seem astounding to some, Emt simply can't get enough of it.

"I absolutely love it," laughs Emt. "I remember one night in particular, I was 20 miles in doing distance and the only reason I stopped was because I had to come home and eat dinner!"

After Emt completed the marathon, he gave himself a two-week break. "A lot of people told me 10 to 14 days to recover," explains Emt. "I'm looking to go back to the same schedule, stay in marathon shape, and do as many marathons as possible."

You can never beat zero
For Emt, hand cycling and marathons are more than just something that drives his competitive spirit. "It is absolutely bettering my quality of life," says Emt. "I feel better about myself. It's physical, emotional, and mental, my whole mind feels better about things."

Considering himself a competitor his entire life (including playing basketball at the University of Connecticut as a walk-on), Emt sees racing and hand cycling as another sport to excel in.

So what is his favorite part about being a competitor? "You can't beat time," says Emt.

"You can beat your own time and the person's next to you, but you can never beat zero. You can beat your time and get a better time the next marathon, but can never get to zero. So the competitive business is always going to be there. And it's a blast!"

Emt is a true hometown hero

Emt is a true hometown hero

Put your mind to it
Aside from being a Team Reeve competitor, Emt is also a teacher and coach. "I teach 7th grade math at the middle school here," says Emt. "And I'm also the head coach of the high school basketball team, going into my 15th season this year. I went to this school, so I coach and teach at my alma mater. I've been involved in my school my entire life."

Being a hometown hero means Emt has a huge support system.

"When I found out I was going to New York to race," says Emt, "the support around the community from people holding car washes, to bake sales, to church functions, donations at my school, and donations from people I don't even know, was incredible. I think I raised close to $7,000 for New York, which wasn't my goal, my goal was $10,000. But it was $7,000 dollars more the Reeve Foundation didn't have. Every little bit helps and the community is just incredible."

Emt's competitive drive helped him cross the finish line. For anyone who thinks they can't do it, Emt simply says, "Put your mind to it. You can do anything you want. It's inside of you."

"I thought that the whole 26 miles," explains Emt of how he pushed through the race. "When my arms were numb, I must have said to myself 250 times, ‘Don't stop, don't stop, don't stop.' If you think about it, you can do it. No matter what the distance is, or what you're doing."

"I try to instill that in my students and teams; just think about it, and you can do it."

Learn more
Inspired by Stephen's story? Want to join Team Reeve? You don't have to be an athlete to become a member. Click here
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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders