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World champion to compete in Amway River Bank Run wheelchair race

A man in a racing wheelchair propels forward. He is wearing all black and a yellow helmet and is racing on the street next to orange conesGRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The winner of the 2019 London Marathon men’s wheelchair race will be among an elite group of athletes competing Saturday in the Amway River Bank Run. Daniel Romanchuk, 20, looks to continue his remarkable year in this one-of-a-kind race after sealing major marathon victories not only in London, but Chicago, New York and Boston as well.

Romanchuk, of Mount Airy, Maryland, will join fellow Paralympians and former River Bank Run winners in downtown Grand Rapids for the 42nd annual event. Four-time Paralympic athlete Aaron Pike of Park Rapids, Minnesota, looks to defend his title after winning the River Bank Run 25K wheelchair division the previous four years.

Popular athlete Oksana Masters, a Ukrainian-born World Champion and four-time Paralympian who has represented the U.S. in three sports, will compete in the women’s handcycle division. Masters won in 2016 and 2017. She didn’t compete last year due to an elbow injury.

Also competing will be several former Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital patients introduced to adaptive sports through its Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports program, one of the largest in the country. The Mary Free Bed team includes handcyclist Matthew Chaffee, who was admitted to Mary Free Bed following a 2014 motorcycle crash that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Chaffee, who has quickly excelled in his sport through intense training, finished fourth last month in the Boston Marathon.

The River Bank Run is the largest road race in the country and the only race in the world to offer a 25K wheelchair division. Using specially designed gloves to push racing wheelchairs, athletes reach speeds of 18 to 20 mph or more. Handcycles have gears that enable them to propel 30 mph or faster. The races begin at 8:15 a.m.

This is the 30th consecutive year that the Mary Free Bed Guild has sponsored the wheelchair division and the 14th for the handcycle division. Athletes will race for $29,200 in prize money between the two divisions.

For more information, contact Chris Mills (616.490.0480, chris.mills@maryfreebed.com) or Christy VanHaver, director of the wheelchair and handcycle divisions (616.437.9583, christy.vanHaver@maryfreebed.com).

About Mary Free Bed
Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since 1891, Mary Free Bed has restored hope and freedom through rehabilitation for children and adults who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple traumas, amputations, cancer and other diagnoses. The combination of more than 110 specialized medical and sports rehabilitation programs and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables our specialty physicians and staff to help patients achieve outstanding clinical results. For additional information, visit maryfreebed.com.

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