50 Marathons, 50 States, 50 Weeks - WDRB 41 Louisville News

50 Marathons, 50 States, 50 Weeks

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) --A Louisville man is on a mission to complete 50 marathons, in 50 states in 50 weeks.  Wheelchair athlete, Paul Erway, says he will complete those 26.2 miles around the city of Louisville this weekend because he wants to be the inspiration that he once needed himself.

It was the week Erway was supposed to graduate college when he lost the use of his legs.        

"My friend was driving we were on a double date and just a freak car accident, we were sliding…when we dropped into a ditch," he says.

The one-time equestrian broke his back but the accident also broke something else, his will to go on.

"The doctor said you broke your back you'll be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life so deal with it," says Erway.  

Erway discovered wheelchair racing and says the sport is the one thing that's pushed him through.

"You have to have something to shoot for a little goal that keeps you going," he says.

From little goals to a lofty one, Erway and his friend Grant Berthiaume are about a quarter of the way through their 50 marathons in 50 states goal.

"We're keeping Paul healthy with a series of exercises meant to keep him strong so that his shoulders will work and take him through those 50 marathons," says U of L/Frazier Rehab, Dr. Steve Williams.

"We've been to Jackson, Mississippi, Houston, Texas, Miami Florida..." says Berthiaume.

Two weeks ago the pair was in Boston, which gives new perspective to Saturday's race in Louisville.  Erway is also taking on a financial challenge, raising money for spinal cord injury patients like him through the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

"The more people that you can help the more that you will be blessed," he says.

But more than anything else -- this mission is about paying it forward.

"I actually had somebody come in, in  a chair and help me," says Berthiaume.

And proving that despite life's challenges, you've got to keep going.

"Hopefully we can touch a lot of lives through all of this," says Erway.   

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