CHESHIRE -- The Hoosac Valley cross country team debuted a new course Wednesday, and the coaching staff made sure it was a special day.
Steve Ferro, the 2006 Western Massachusetts Division III cross country champion, was on hand to start the race. It was the first cross country race Ferro, 23, has attended in a while.
Last May, he was involved in a motorcycle accident in which he was paralyzed. He completely broke the T4 vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed below that point. But being back at races confirms his desire to get back into racing.
"I don’t particularly know any of the runners on the team right now, but it’s great to see them," Ferro said. "I plan to compete myself again. I want to do some triathlons eventually. I’ll start with some road races and marathons, though.
"I’m a T4 complete, so I’m going to be in my chair. I’m not going to be walking, but I’m going to make the best of it. [Being here] helps me a lot, as far as wanting to compete again and feel that competition."
Ferro attended the Hurricanes’ spaghetti super fundraiser last week where he was asked if he wanted to help christen the new course.
"Ron [Namilso] asked me if I’d like to start this race, the only home meet of the season, and I said I’d love to, it’s an honor," the 2007 Hoosac Valley graduate said before pulling the start gun trigger. "It’s great to be back here and reminisce of all the memories I had running here. It’s really exciting, a new course record is about to be had, so it’s fun."
Before the race, all of the Hurricane runners met Ferro and talked with him for a few minutes before he fired the starting gun.
"He didn’t give up and he’s not giving up," Travis Ciempa said after he won the race. "It’s really inspirational to get to meet him and for him to be here."
His brother Trevor, had similar thoughts.
"It’s just amazing to think that can happen to someone," Trevor Ciempa said. "And to a really fast runner. It’s just really sad. It makes you want to do really good for him. I say I ran for him [Wednesday]."
Ferro lives in Cheshire and does his rehab at Berkshire Medical Center as he works back to his goal of racing again. He also is hoping to play sled hockey and participate in adaptive skiing.
He had finished a degree in kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts, with a hope of going into physical therapy.
"Now that I’m injured, it’s not ideal," he said. "I’m looking into some kind of other career in the health care field. It’s confusing, but eventually I’ll get a good grasp on how I can help people out and what I will really be best at."
While he continues to rehab he will also continue to attend cross country events, including the team’s end-of-the-season banquet -- another request of his former coach.
"It’s really emotional for me," Namislo said. "More than I know, but it’s good for the kids to meet him, and it’s good for him to be out here."
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