The New York City Marathon, a course that runs 26.2 miles through all five boroughs of the city, had a competitor unlike any other this year. Retired Army Sgt. Theresa Vereline last week became the first paralyzed American to complete a marathon, thanks to help from her ReWalk 5.0 exoskeleton suit.
"Words cannot express the feelings I had crossing the finish line," Vereline said in a press release. "This has been a dream of mine, and I hope I can serve as an inspiration to others that you too can achieve what seems like the impossible -- especially all of the disabled children I meet across the country."
Vereline, 65, completed the marathon over the course of three days in coordination with New York Road Runners, the organizers of the race. She began on Nov. 1, walking 10 miles, walked another 10 miles on Nov. 2, and finished the last 6.2 miles on the actual race day, Nov. 3. Vereline crossed the finish line Sunday evening at 6:35 p.m., according to the release.
"We are incredibly proud of her. Her achievement at the marathon and her efforts to help others with disability are inspirations to us all," Andy Dolan, ReWalk's vice president of marketing, said in an email.
Vereline wasn't immediately available for comment, but she posted on Facebook that she refers to the ReWalk exoskeleton as Ditto. On her account, Vereline said the Bronx Veterans Affairs office issued the suit to her a little over five years ago. Dolan said that the exoskeleton is the first such device to gain clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. He said Vereline was one of the first people in the US to receive her own device.
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Originally published Nov. 11.
Update, Nov. 12: Adds comments from ReWalk.