Patrick Rummerfield’s Story

Who is Patrick Rummerfield? Patrick

Rummerfield is, quite literally, a walking miracle, and the World’s First Fully Functional Quadriplegic. Rummerfield is, quite literally, a walking miracle, and the World’s First Fully Functional Quadriplegic


His story tells of the power of will. He has experienced the defeat of being told he would die in three days, and yet he has lived to tell his own story. He experienced the fear that he would never move any part of his body again, but turned the fear into a challenge.

Injured in an alcohol-related car crash in 1974, Patrick Rummerfield’s spine suffered four crushed cervical vertebrae. Doctors saw little chance for survival, and they predicted death within 72 hours. His indomitable will, positive attitude and spiritual strength beat the hand of death and more. After enduring seventeen years of intense physical therapy, he has regained almost complete physical function, and is recognized as the world’s first recorded fully-functional spinal-cord-injured quadriplegic. His determination to “never give up” became the cornerstone of his new life.


Patrick is walking proof that never, ever giving up creates miracles.

When doctors told his family that the best course for Patrick was to be moved to a long-term nursing facility, where he could die in peace, Patrick refused to accept that sentence. He worked hard, and with faith as his guiding light, beat the insurmountable odds.

He is the first fully functional quadriplegic in the history of medicine.

Time and time again, Patrick rose to his many challenges. First he survived; then he moved. He walked; then he ran. And when Patrick runs, he does it with the same commitment and desire to succeed that has guided his life. He has competed in marathons and triathlons all over the world: the Hawaiian IronMan Triathlon, Antarctica Marathon and Racing-The-Planet’s 155 mile Gobi March. And then there are the fast cars his goal was to drive: NASCAR, drag racing, Grand Am, American Le Mans and the ultimate: attaining the World Land Speed record for the electric car.

Today, Patrick devotes his life to public service, to helping others and to showing the world the power of Activity Based Restoration Therapies. Coupled with positive thinking and the miracles that come from never, ever giving up, he works with patients affected by spinal cord injuries, and gives inspirational speeches on the power of personal will and personal perseverance.

Having achieved unprecedented accomplishments was just a beginning. A deathbed challenge from his father inspired Patrick to dedicate his life to public service and helping others to “never give up” their dreams. His own life is a testimony to the miracle that can come of will power and positive thinking. Rummerfield now contributes his time to helping with fundraisers, lecturing on safety issues, giving inspirational and motivational talks and, along the way, establishing 47 new world records and “firsts”.

The Desire to help

Rummerfield is the former  patient/community relations liaison and one of the founders of  patient/community relations at the  International Center for Spinal Cord Injury located on the Johns Hopkins medical campus, recognized as the number one medical institution in the world.   The former director, John McDonald M.D, Ph.D. was Christopher Reeve’s physician, and an associate professor at Johns Hopkins. The focus of this center is to develop and employ advanced restorative therapies for people living with paralysis. Pat is recognized as an international expert in the area of accident prevention. (His post-accident career also includes Contract Mining, Underwater Engineering and Industrial Work Injury Management.)

In 1996, Patrick co-founded the NextSteps Foundation. A non-profit, 501-C3 philanthropic organization, NextSteps’ mission is to help in the fight for the prevention, treatment and cure of paralysis.”Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those living with this debilitating condition” says Patrick, who is the former Director of NextSteps.

In 2007, Patrick founded Adventures On Wheels: a nonprofit organization committed to improving the life of wheelchair-bound individuals “one adventure at a time”. Adventures on Wheels is the synthesis of Patrick’s passion to help others overcome their disabilities and to enrich their lives by testing boundaries through exciting quests.

Another charitable venture was IronHope. Through IronHope Patrick brought together all of the charitable efforts to which he’s dedicated his life, and spread a message of hope, willpower, and motivation. IronHope also worked with manufacturers of high-quality assistive products who wanted to participate in Patrick’s mission to improve the life of those afflicted by illness. Every product that carried the IronHope logo devoted a portion of the sales proceeds to Patrick’s charitable causes.

The Extra Mile (Pushing Yourself)

Patrick’s desire to celebrate his post-accident restored life is evident in the sports challenges that he’s undertaken. He has competed in several major publicity-based races, including fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House, the Washington University School of Medicine, and for helping abused and battered children. His most recent race, Racing-The-Planet’s Gobi March, a 155 mile run across China’s Gobi desert, was a fundraiser for research at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury. Patrick’s willpower proved itself again, when he persisted, finishing the ultra-marathon despite sustaining two fractured ankles at the start of the race.

His most notable accomplishment was the IronMan Triathlon race in Hawaii. He successfully completed the race: the first and only spinal-cord-injured quadriplegic to do so, and even crossed the finish line before some other contestants!

For over a decade Patrick held the FIA World Land speed record for an all-electric car at over 245.5 miles per hour. He set the record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in October 1999 behind the wheel of the DWRA’s rocket-shaped streamliner known as “White Lightening”.

Patrick’s lifelong dream has been to become a race car driver. A first step towards that dream was realized recently when he attended several high-performance driving schools.



Read about Patrick’s visit to US soldiers in Germany.
Patrick recently appeared on AARP’s “My Generation” television program in the feature segment of Quiet Heroes titled “Walking Proof”.
A popular motivational lecturer, Rummerfield travels nationwide speaking to audiences recounting his amazing story and inspiring others to set goals and never give up.
Among the many projects currently in the works are featured stories about his driving career, shown on the Discovery Channel, Extreme Machines, Motor Sports Weekly on Fox Sports, interviews by the major networks and cable, movie proposals and a book, Green Bananas, a memoir of his life6

A Living Miracle

“When you look at Pat’s MRI, he is missing around 85% of his spinal cord at C4 [the fourth cervical vertebra]. His recovery and how far he has taken his active based restoration therapy is a true measure of his spirit and drive. Most with an MRI like Pat’s would still be in a chair. Thanks to Pat and the research we have been doing on him for the past 10 years there is new cutting-edge equipment and rehab protocols that we have developed and are implementing that has definitely improve outcomes of many with paralysis.”

John W. McDonald, M.D., Ph.D.