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25K wheelchair division marks 25 years

Beth Cranson
Media Relations
616.840.8215 – office
616.540.0813 – cell

Grand Rapids, Mich. – For the 25th consecutive year, the Mary Free Bed Guild is sponsoring the 25K Wheelchair Division of the Fifth Third River Bank Run. To acknowledge and honor this milestone, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is reflecting on the past 25 years through the eyes of participants. They include:

  • Tom Ottenwess of Caledonia, who has participated in the wheelchair division since the 1980s. He completed his first race on four wheels, not with an aerodynamic racing chair. Customized racing chairs now are valued at $12,000 or more.
  • Matthew Porterfield of Knoxville, Tenn., who participates in wheelchair races around the country and ranks the River Bank Run among the best. “Starting with a ride from the airport, they take care of you from start to finish,” he says of Mary Free Bed.

2014 also marks the ninth year for the 25K Handcycle Division. This year, Mary Free Bed is hoping to attract 50 participants to the wheelchair and handcycle divisions, which would be an all-time high, says Kelly Merz, Spinal Cord Injury Program recreational therapist at Mary Free Bed and coordinator of the two divisions of the race. More than $20,000 in prize money will be awarded in the two divisions.

The River Bank Run is the only race in North America to offer both wheelchair and handcycle divisions, offering disabled athletes the opportunity to participate in a competitive race on a 25K national championship course alongside able-bodied racers.

Information about registration, prize money and winning times from previous years is available at www.maryfreebed.com.

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital – Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, acute-care rehabilitation hospital. For more than 120 years, we have served the needs of children and adults – restoring hope and freedom through rehabilitation. The scope of rehabilitation services on the Mary Free Bed campus is not found anywhere else in Michigan: 80 acute-care inpatient beds, extensive outpatient programs and home-based services. The combination of comprehensive services and our exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables specialty physicians and staff to achieve outstanding clinical results for patients. For additional information, visit www.maryfreebed.com.

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