Matt Wetherbee made plans to propose to his girlfriend, Kaitlyn Kiely, in June 2016 after she would return from a weekend vacation with her friends. They had been dating for a long time and he knew he wanted to propose before he turned 29. Unfortunately, life took an unexpected turn and instead of proposing, he found himself in the hospital…
Matt Wetherbee via Facebook
Wetherbee was an active member of a local men’s league basketball team. He was participating in a weekly game when a routine dash to the basket turned into an unexpected play. The defender stepped in and Wetherbee tripped over his foot, causing him to fall head-first into the wall. “I was conscious, and I knew something was immediately wrong because I couldn’t move anything,” he shared.
Wetherbee was then taken to a local hospital for an emergency operation on his injured legs. He tore several ligaments and had damage to the upper portion of his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. He remains paralyzed to this day. Throughout his stay at the hospital, Kiely never left his side, and nothing has changed since then…
Wetherbee had a long medical road before him after he was released from the hospital. This included two years of intensive physical therapy and electronic stimulation in order for him to hopefully one day rise out of his wheelchair—a dream of his. No progress has been made yet, but Wetherbee and Kiely are adjusting to their new life together.
Matthew Wetherbee via Instagram
“We’re trying now to figure out how to navigate our new life, find our new normal, and we’re realizing the world is trying to adapt to the handicap population, but we’re still not there yet,” Kiely said. “We’re sick of hearing ‘no,’ or feeling like we couldn’t live our lives the way we want to. If you want something to happen, find a way to make it happen.” And that’s exactly what they’re doing now…
Last week, the couple demonstrated that despite a handicap disability, you can still be “brave and strong.” They made plans to compete in the famous Boston Marathon on April 16. Kiely planned and trained to push Wetherbee along the 26.2-mile route in his wheelchair. It would be a challenge, but they were ready to face it. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan…
The couple had missed the “Athletes With Disabilities” application deadline to participate in the marathon on April 16. However, they didn’t give up on the challenge and they collaborated with HOTSHOT, a local Boston company, to complete the marathon course on April 9, the Monday before the official race. A crowd gathered at the starting line and cheered the couple on as they made their way along the course.
To train for the marathon, Kiely had practiced running with a wheelchair by piling it with 50-pound bags of salt. Every week, she increased her mileage and the number of bags. By the morning of April 9, she was ready and the couple set out on the hilly Boston Marathon course with fans cheering them on as they worked together.
It took the couple five-and-a-half hours to finish the course, but crossing the finish line was a special moment for both Kiely and Wetherbee. “That was definitely the best part for both of us. I was shocked to see how many people were there at the finish line,” he said. “We both got pretty emotional at the end. I cried, and that doesn’t happen often.” As for Kiely? She has a different perspective…
Josh Reynolds via People
But for Kiely, she wasn’t just pushing her boyfriend; they were motivating and pushing each other each step of the way. “It’s an awesome feeling, but to cross it with the love of your life sitting in the chair below you and all of your family and friends right here,” she said, “it’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”