GREENVILLE, South Carolina (WJW) – Adam Gorlitsky isn’t supposed to be competing in marathons. Quite frankly, he’s lucky to be alive.
He fell asleep at the wheel while driving home from college on December 30, 2005.
“I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt and, as a result, I was in a single-person car accident,” Gorlitsky said. “I suffered a T-9 spinal cord injury, so I’m paralyzed from my belly button down.”
Doctors told him he would never be able to walk again, but he never let the injury define him.
“Ten years post-accident, I started using this amazing piece of technology called the Rewalk Robotic Exoskeleton that allows me to stand up and walk,” he said.
Gorlitsky grew up running track, cross-country and playing basketball. The injury took away his ability to compete in the sports he loves. The exoskeleton suit has empowered him, giving him the chance to compete again. Now, he’s taking full advantage.
“Over seven years of using this exoskeleton, I’ve walked in about 50-plus road races now,” he said.
In 2020 in Charleston, he set the Guinness World Record for exoskeleton marathon walking. Now, leaner, stronger and motivated, he’s planning to break that record in his hometown at the 2023 Cleveland Marathon.
“I currently hold the record at 33 hours, 16 minutes and 28 seconds,” he said. “My goal is to walk the Cleveland Marathon in between 26 to 29 hours.”
He’s also motivated to raise awareness and support for his non-profit called I GOT LEGS. It aims to advance the sport of exoskeleton marathon walking by fundraising for the cost of each unit, which is roughly $120,000.
Gorlitsky is hopeful through competition, and his non-profit, he can help advance the sport to become a paralympic and collegiate adaptive sport. That mission continues with every race.
“Whether you’re disabled or able-bodied, any kind of adversity that you go through, it doesn’t have to define you,” he said.