Marathon Woman

Paralyzed US Veteran Uses Exoskeleton to Complete a Marathon

"Words cannot express the feelings I had crossing the finish line."

11. 12. 19 / Kristin Houser
CBS News
Image by CBS News

Retired Army Sergeant Terry Hannigan Vereline just made history at the 2019 New York City Marathon.

When she crossed the finish line on November 3, the 65-year-old became the first paralyzed American to successfully complete a marathon — and she did so with the help of a robotic exoskeleton.

“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 served in Vietnam, and when she was in her late-20s, doctors diagnosed her with sarcoidosis, a rare inflammatory disease linked to the chemicals she was exposed to while in the military, according to the NY Post.

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By 2011, the disease had paralyzed her from the chest down. The following year, Vereline began using the ReWalk Robotics exoskeleton, the device she used to complete the marathon over the course of three days.

“Ever since the day I stood up in the ReWalk for the first time, opportunities I never thought I’d have again were laid out before me,” Vereline said in the press release. “I trained hard, and was able to achieve something amazing. And I am grateful for the chance to be able to stand and walk again every day.”


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