Put a few athletes in a room and they are likely to make a connection, even if one of them plays for the National Hockey League and the other is a former high school athlete who has been paralyzed for over a dozen years. This is what happened Wednesday when New Jersey Devils forward Kenny Agostino met Darren Templeton, one of the founders of Push to Walk (PTW), a non-profit organization that helps those with paralysis stay physically fit.
Darren sustained a C5 spinal cord injury after diving into shallow water at the New Jersey Shore in July 2004. He was 18 years old at the time and had played on his high school ice hockey team. The accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. Upon completing traditional rehabilitation therapy, Darren looked for a way to gain strength and improve his overall fitness. Traditional gyms in northern New Jersey could not accommodate his needs. As a result, he and his mother, Cynthia Templeton, founded PTW in 2007.
This specially-equipped wheelchair accessible gym has trainers who are certified in methods that have shown to work with people who have spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injuries, and other neurological mobility impairments.
Agostino, a New Jersey native who began playing for the Devils in March, visited the gym, located in Oakland, after learning that a former high school ice hockey player – and a devoted Devils’ fan – was one of the founders. His visit was eye-opening.
“The people who work out at Push to Walk are truly inspiring. They are among the most resilient individuals I have ever met. It’s clear that PTW is making a difference in their lives,” emphasizes Agostino, who supports the organization’s mission of helping individuals with spinal cord injuries and other forms of paralysis optimize their quality of life.
If you know of anyone who is struggling with mobility issues as a result of a spinal cord injury, stroke, MS, or other neurological condition, PTW can be a valuable resource. It’s not only a place where these individuals build their physical strength, but also a place where they build lifelong friendships. As a PTW Board member for the past five years, I have had the privilege of witnessing this firsthand. For more information, go to www.pushtowalknj.org or call (201) 644-7567.
PTW Board Member