Quadriplegic Patient Runs a Marathon

Northwestern Medicine
News October 07, 2016
Alan Robinson’s first life-saving interaction with Northwestern Memorial Hospital was when he suffered a spinal cord injury in 1991 that left him quadriplegic. After rehabilitation got him walking again, he had a simple quest: learn to run so he could chase after buses that would drive off without him. Eighteen marathons and countless health hurdles later, Robinson plans to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon to thank those who have helped him along the way.
“I feel I am fulfilling my purpose by running marathons given all that has happened to me,” Robinson says. “This race is dedicated to everyone who has helped me and it would not be possible without Northwestern Memorial Hospital.”

Alan Robinson, a quadriplegic marathon runner Throughout his running career, Robinson has been treated for additional conditions besides his spinal cord injury, including prostate cancer, a blood clot in his leg and a rare form of liver disease.

Robinson says that he has a way of seeing these occurrences as blessings and has fought through each complication while keeping up with his training. As he trained at his local gym, he became friends with Tonya Howell, who works out at the same gym. Howell selflessly plans to be there every mile of the way to support Robinson during the marathon.
As Robinson reflects on his experiences over the years at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and his current treatment plan, the staff members are what really stand out.
“I can tell Northwestern not only hires employees for the quality of their work, but also the quality of their personalities,” Robinson says. “Everyone from the physicians to the receptionists is always smiling and ready to help.”
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