Jamin Rader, 18, who is set to graduate from Timberline High School in June, appears to have adjusted to life with a wheelchair, racing around Capitol Lake on Sunday with a smile on his face, while his mother, Heather, jogged alongside him.
Asked about his situation and he replied without hesitation.
“I have no problem living like this,” he said. “It’s not going to slow me down.”
His paralysis didn’t slow him down on Sunday, nor did it slow down about 300 other people, all of whom joined Rader to roll, walk or run around the lake as part of a fundraiser organized in his name.
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The poker run began at 11:30 a.m. and participants took two laps around the lake, stopping periodically to draw a playing card from a bag. Pick the right combination of cards to produce the best five-card hand and those walking, rolling or running were eligible for prizes.
That was the fun part of the race, but it also had its emotional moment as Jamin, his mother, father and sister all addressed the crowd before the start of the race.
“We are in awe of the outpouring of love in this community,” Jamin’s mother, Heather, told the audience.
They also touched on what happened in early November, which Jamin elaborated on following completion of the poker run.
Nov. 9 was a typical day for Jamin: he went for a run, and he spent time with his girlfriend, but something wasn’t right with his legs. He experienced some severe cramping and then it was like his legs were “seizing up” on him, Rader said.
He went to bed early, but then found himself on the floor, unable to move his legs. His sister alerted his parents and he was rushed to a local hospital.
Rader eventually would be transferred to the UW Medical Center, and after a battery of tests, be diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an inflammatory disease that can damage the spinal cord. He is paralyzed from the waist down.
But doctors aren’t 100 percent sure that’s what he is suffering from, Rader said.
“It’s the closest thing they can get to,” he said about the diagnosis.
He continues to get an MRI every other week, he said.
Des McGahern of Tumwater, a Rader family friend, helped organize Sunday’s event.
In addition to asking for a suggested donation of $20 on the day of the run, a website also was created to accept donations. McGahern said more than $7,000 has been raised so far, which will be used to help pay medical bills and ongoing medical needs.
The website can be found at www.jaminrader.myevent.com.
Meanwhile, Jamin is confident that he will be accepted into the University of Washington, where he plans to study atmospheric sciences. He, too, echoed his mother’s comments before the start of the race.
“I never knew a community could be so supportive and so loving,” he said.