June 30, 2014 10:46PM
By Leanne Cozart
WALLINGFORD — Climbing a nine-foot wall and slaloming through a fire pit are just a couple of the obstacles Southington resident Shane Mosko and his team of friends otherwise known as “Scrambled Legs” endured at the Gaylord Gauntlet this weekend.
For the vivacious Mosko, conquering this obstacle course was just another set of challenges he’s taken on since becoming a paraplegic in car accident nearly two years ago.
“When I got in the accident, I told myself that I wasn’t going to let anything hold me back and stop me from achieving whatever I wanted to achieve,” Mosko said. “So I definitely had it set in my mind that whatever I’m going to come up against, I’m going to conquer.”
Such was the case once again at Saturday’s Gaylord Sports Association Gauntlet 5K Trail and Obstacle Run. After just the second obstacle, Mosko’s wheelchair broke. His group adapted and worked tirelessly, finishing the event, which drew 400 entrants, in a winning time of one hour and 10 minutes.
Adapting has become very familiar to Mosko. After his car accident on Sept. 30, 2012, which left his back broken and his spinal cord traumatized, this former Southington High School soccer player had to withstand several operations over the course of 32 days in the hospital.
Following that, he started his rehabilitation process at Gaylord Hospital, where he joined the Sports Association Program. Since then, he’s snow skied, water skied, rock climbed, completed a triathlon as well as the 26.2-mile Hartford Marathon with a handcycle.
“Shane’s been participating in a lot of our different adaptive sports programs for the past year and a half or so,” said Gaylord Sports Association Program Manager Katie Joly. “This event is something new for us and for him, so we prepared over the last few months working on our strategy as we figured out the best way to get Shane through the course safely while still having a lot of fun doing it.”
It wasn’t hard for Shane and his five friends from high school to enjoy themselves. They’re all natural competitors.
“Shane told me about this a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been fired up ever since,” said Jake Rodriques, who played football at Southington High and Fordham University. “I’m a competitive guy, I’ve always been a sports guy, just as he is, and we’ve got a bunch of sports guys here who’ve been looking forward to competing.”
“All these guys are my best friends and they’ve been so supportive of me since I got in this accident,” Mosko said. “They’ve always been by my side and have never treated me differently. I definitely knew that these were the guys to contact and reach out to help me.”
At the age of 22, Mosko’s take on life and the way he impacts people around him is profound. Groups throughout the course Saturday watched the “Scrambled Legs” team and couldn’t help but cheer Mosko and his buddies on as they conquered obstacle after obstacle.
Dr. Steve Holland, Gaylord’s Chief Medical Officer, was the driver behind the Gauntlet 5K Trail and Obstacle Run. Halfway through the obstacle race called the Rugged Maniac, Holland realized how perfect Gaylord’s property would be for something similar. Nine months of planning followed. Tireless work put in by the group of volunteers brought it to fruition.
Holland was pleased with Saturday’s event and even more pleased to see Mosko quickly jump at this opportunity to continue pushing himself to new limits.
“Shane’s an amazing individual, and for him to want to take on a challenge like this with so many different things that aren’t specifically devised for him is just amazing. I give him so much credit,” said Holland.
“We want to put together a course that an adaptive athlete could do and now we’ve got some new ideas,” he added. “So next year it’ll be even better.”