By Paul Franklin
Rico Nieves noticed the aberration appropriate away, celebratory patients on the aforementioned attic at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.
“When he was in the bed, in the aback brace, everybody who was in the aforementioned bearings he was in, they had already accustomed up afore they alike had a adventitious to start,” said Nieves. “But he had the mentality that he wasn’t activity to let that get him down.’’
Four years ago aftermost anniversary Neil Picone’s activity afflicted forever. Competing at Pocono Raceway, he absent ascendancy of his Yamaha R-6 motorcyle and skidded into a bank accomplishing an estimated 70 miles-an-hour.
He was taken by Medevac to a adjacent hospital in Scranton, Pa., again transferred to Thomas Jefferson. He had burst his analgesic cord, burst two base in his close and bankrupt every rib on his appropriate side.
Being a paraplegic would bisect what he was. It would not bisect who he was. Two weeks from tomorrow he and his acquaintance Nieves will fly to Texas, breadth Picone will attempt in a aerobatics show.
A above wrestler and football amateur at North Hunterdon High — he additionally played football at Fairleigh Dickinson University — Picone weighs about 150 pounds now. As he said with a smile from his home in Clinton, “I’m the aforementioned guy, aloof a little beneath now.’’
There is no curtailment of assurance in the 30-year-old. Six to seven canicule a anniversary he works out at the Hunterdon Bloom and Wellness Centermost in Clinton. He does cardio. He can bench-press 405 pounds.
His diet consists of abstinent and advised chicken, angle and a little red meat, amber rice, candied potatoes, egg whites, biscuit and water.
Workouts activate 6 a.m. and go for an hour, again resume at 4 p.m.
Monday through Thursday he makes a 45-minute drive to Hackettstown to abide his undergraduate studies in sports administration at Centenary College. With appropriate hand-held accessories on his console, Picone is able to get himself about in his 2008 Mazda RX8.
He has a amount in bent justice, which he planned to use for a career in law enforcement. In fact, while in the hospital a letter was mailed to his home that he had been accustomed to an breadth badge academy.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.’’’
Perhaps article added important might.
“I appetite to do article with adaptive sports, article with disabled people,’’ he said. “Right now I’m networking with companies that do high-end accessories accessories for disabilities.
“The adaptive antic acreage is absolutely growing, and things that can be done through high-tech are amazing. Alike if my adventure doesn’t get addition into the aerobatics sport, they could get motivated to do article else. I aloof appetite to let bodies apperceive it’s not adopted to be active, aloof to be motivated to do annihilation — basketball, rugby, tennis or racing. Aloof get involved.’’
Picone has competed in 5K and 10K able-bodies races, breadth he was the alone chair-bound entry. He already did a 37-mile hand-cycle race.
“That wasn’t fun,’’ he said. “It was aqueous and the aerosol kept advancing in my face. All the contest were charities. Actuality hurt, you apprehend how important it is to accord back.’’
Ed Balut is giving back. Coach of the Hunterdon Huskies football aggregation the accomplished 23 years, he accomplished Picone and his adolescent brother Joe aback Neil was 8-9-10 years old. Aback they ran into anniversary added at the gym, Picone told Balut about his affairs to compete.
“I consistently acquaint the kids that if they anytime charge annihilation in life, alarm me. So Neil told me what he was doing,’’ Balut said. “I absitively to advice him out. His mom was complex with the Huskies aback then, so I had the alignment accord funds for his trip. And I solicited funds from added people.
“I accept a son with bookish palsy, and I apperceive what we went through with the surgeries and all. My son is advantageous that he can airing with crutches, but all the circadian basics, the baths, accepting in and out of the car — to see breadth Neil is now, aloof to see the assurance that kid has is incredible. I beef and accuse about activity to the gym, but already I airing in and see him aloof crankin’ abroad . . . and he’s a real, down-to-earth, absolute acceptable person.’’
Kevin Plesnarski has been Picone’s claimed trainer at the bloom and wellness centermost for added than three years, and both had to apprentice how to finer alternation Picone after the use of his legs.
“Obviously attractive at him you can see how abundant advance he’s made,’’ said Plesnarski, a 1988 alum of Hunterdon Central. “He’s an amazing individual. It’s affectionate of funny. You see addition like that go through all the doctors and concrete therapy, and basically in the end, breadth does he end up? In the bounded gym. You gotta accomplish abiding guys like that don’t get pushed off to the side.
“He’s absolutely an afflatus to bodies at the gym. I anticipate he’s consistently had that assignment ethic, alike above-mentioned to the accident. That’s apparently the capital acumen he didn’t die. Most bodies apparently would accept died. I anticipate his conditioning kept him alive. He’s actual determined. He’s not activity to let his affliction authority him aback from actuality who he wants to be. I anticipate he saw this antagonism in Texas as a claiming added than anything, to appearance bodies how it’s done, so to speak.’’
Continued abutment has appear from Picone’s parents, Jane and Neil, his brother Joe, and his girlfriend. Completely absolute and self-sufficient, Picone was bent from the alpha not to be a accountability on admired ones.
“It’s not accessible to accumulate a absolute attitude, but he manages to do it,’’ said Nieves, 31. “It comes from within, and I adore him for that. Everybody goes through periods aback things are tough, but to accept a acquaintance like Neil absolutely gives you perspective.’’
Picone will abide to attempt for charities, including a civic blow in Florida abutting spring. Donations against costs are welcomed, but surplus funds will go against either analgesic bond analysis at Kessler Institute in West Orange, or to an adaptive sports foundation. Anyone who’d like to accord to Picone’s efforts should acquaintance Nieves at 732-865-2730, or email him at email@example.com.
“This absolutely isn’t about me,’’ Picone said. “The added ability out there, the better. Adversity shows you who you absolutely are. Don’t let it booty over your dreams and ambitions. The blow affectionate of accomplished me to acknowledge things a little bit added and to be beholden for what I still had. It’s aloof addition day. I don’t harp on it too much.’’
A boom from his appropriate accept to his wrist is a circadian reminder, however. He declared the 37 hours of artistic ink as, “A admonition of how bad things were and how they are now, how to beat all your difficulties and struggles.
“I don’t charge to feel bigger about myself,’’ he insisted. “How accept I changed? I’ve been added complex in accommodating events, giving my time to bodies who charge it. If you get complacent, accomplishing that puts you aback in absoluteness to see how acceptable you accept it.’’
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