My Why: Alex Torelli

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on October 02, 2020 # Team Reeve

The inaugural Reeve Run & Roll virtual 5K will take Team Reeve globetrotting for the first time on October 17, 2020. And this time around, participants can run, roll, handcycle, bike, roller skate, or walk it out on a treadmill. We reached out to our Team Reeve members to ask why they are participating in the Reeve Foundation first virtual 5K.

Alex Torelli

What inspired you to join Team Reeve?

Over seven years ago, I was paralyzed in an accident while skiing in Vermont. My first days and weeks in the hospital were confusing, but the information I received from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation helped me and my family get our heads around my injury and what would come next. These materials answered lots of questions for us, helping me focus on my therapy.

As my recovery progressed, I became more independent and more involved in the SCI community. I have grown more familiar with the incredible work of the Reeve Foundation. From grants and advocacy to cutting-edge research, they address our community's immediate needs and invest in a better future. As an avid handcyclist, joining Team Reeve was an excellent way to pay it forward and ensure this work continues until we've found a cure.

What has been the hardest challenge that you have overcome?

I can't think of one specific thing, but for me, the hardest part of my recovery has been the psychological aspect rather than the physical. I was always an athletic person before the accident and was fortunate, in some ways, to still be young when it happened. I quickly regained strength and independence. I was going home and getting back to my life, I was nervous about how those around me would perceive me, and whether I could still achieve the goals I had set for myself. It takes time to get used to kids pointing and dogs barking when you roll down the street. I knew I was the same person I was before the wheelchair, but now I had to get used to this new presence I occupied in life.

My mindset was essentially to roll with the punches, no pun intended, and not look back. Instead of getting annoyed with someone, I began to view it as a teachable moment. Instead of getting upset about something going wrong by myself at home, I found humor in the mundane stupidity of everyday failures. It's not like I snapped my fingers and had this new outlook. Still, I've grown so much from putting myself in uncomfortable situations and taking an optimistic view when things inevitably don't go according to plan.

What are you looking forward to on the day of the race?

I can't wait to see how many people are just as passionate as I am about Team Reeve! It obviously would be great if we could all be together, but I think something is inspiring about doing this virtually – it becomes much more accessible. Seeing how far across the country and world passion for this because reaches will be amazing and inspiring to me as I continue to do what I can to move the ball forward for the SCI/paralysis community.

Explain why it's important for you to take part in this virtual 5k this year.

As I mentioned before, I value the Reeve Foundation's work tremendously, so my main goal is to raise as much money as possible for the Big Idea study so we can accelerate along our route to curing SCI and paralysis. After I moved to NYC almost two years ago, I have been looking for a way to get involved in the local SCI community. As an avid handcyclist, I am super excited to be able to handcycle in support of a cause I am passionate about, and that affects me directly. Originally, I was planning to train to compete for Team Reeve in the NYC marathon, but I am more than happy to apply my training to a virtual 5K instead, and potentially double my contribution when I enter the marathon next year!

There is still time to register for the Reeve Run & Roll and join my team!

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.