Matt Ficarra, 30, had one goal at his wedding: Walk down the aisle.
Which is easier said than done in this case. In 2011, Ficarra was in a boating accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. He didn’t let the injury stop him, though, managing to learn to drive, live on his own, and maintain employment.
And in December of 2013, he got engaged to Jordan Basile, a former classmate he reconnected with years after they first met in college. That’s when he decided he wouldn’t be in his wheelchair at their wedding.
It was Matt’s doctor who first suggested the robotic Ekso suit. The only problem? The bionic exoskeleton, which is used to help people who are paralyzed move their legs with the aid of a helper and a sci-fi-like apparatus, was located at a rehabilitation center in Allentown, Penn., which is a seven-hour trip from Matt's home.
But Matt had set a precedent. And he didn’t let this latest obstacle get in his way. So for eight months, Matt drove seven hours every week to the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Center to practice walking in the Ekso. And when his wedding date arrived, he walked down the aisle, as planned:
"It feels great to be married,'' Matt told Syracuse.com. "And I am so happy to have met my goal of walking at my wedding."
Now he has a new goal: Raise $130,000 so he can get an Ekso of his own to use on a day-to-day basis. As his YouCaring fundraising page explains, “in the summer of 2015, there is an exoskeleton specifically designed for at home use that will regain Matt’s ability to walk on a daily basis.”
It continues: “Besides the endless medical benefits, daily use will provide Matt with the utmost confidence and freedom to live his life as if he was never paralyzed in the first place.” You can donate to Matt’s cause here.
Need more inspiration? Check out Matthew McConaughey's football speech: