Source: Press Of Atlantic City
The last thing Dawn Robinson of Woodbine, remembers about that rainy and foggy night on the Atlantic City Expressway is seeing trees rushing toward her car. She asked God to let her live (and) woke up two months later after being in a medically induced coma.
Robinson had back surgery and needed a tracheostomy to help her breathe. She was in a brace for a year after the accident and suffered a pressure wound from staying in one position for too long. Robinson had physical and occupational therapy all the time, but this was the breakthrough year as she moved into a handicap-accessible home in Woodbine, started visiting a gym and rediscovered the water.
Becky McGill, a physical therapist, is the spinal cord injury program coordinator at the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation in Pomona. McGill introduced Robinson to Bruckner Chase, who is the founder and president of Bruckner Chase Ocean Positive, Inc. One of its projects is the Ocean City Swim Club/Bacharach Rehabilitation Hospital Swimming and Paddling United Team Program, which helps those with spinal cord injuries learn to move through the water and teaches weekly open water prone paddleboarding and swimming.
Before Robinson hit the open water, she had already been back to a gym and was doing pool training on Tuesday nights at the Ocean City Aquatics and Fitness Center. When she tried prone paddleboarding for the first time, she found her arms were not burning that bad. “Once I got on the board, I loved it. It’s tough going against the currents, but I like a good challenge.”
Robinson, a twice-a-week surfer before the accident, returned to the open water as a prone paddleboarder in June. After five one-hour lessons, she recently became the first para-athlete to participate in and finish the Upper Township Beach Patrol’s MS Race.
When Robinson did the 5-mile race at the end of July, she was paddling with the current in the beginning. The first 2 1/2 miles were a little difficult, but nothing she couldn’t handle. She found paddling five miles to be tough, but invigorating. The hard work was worth the reception she received on the beach after paddling for 1 hour and 46 minutes.
“A lot of people shook my hand and said it was great paddling with you. It was really cool. I felt like a rock star, like everyone wanted my autograph,” Robinson said.
Robinson has received a car that has been modified to accommodate her disability and just began driving again. She wants to help people who are struggling with drugs and alcohol, but she can be particularly effective with people in the same situation as her, her fellow paraplegics.
“This is not the end of the world,” Robinson said.