Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Crushing it!

Dennis crushing it yesterday at therapy. Completed one hour in the standing frame (a very important and typically slow-build tolerance machine)! Prior record: 15 minutes.
Dennis continues to take his rehab to the next level at Kessler. Keep up the awesome work, Dennis. We are so proud of you!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Catastrophe & Hope

From Anita:

In going through a pile of mail from the insurance, doctors, hospitals, etc., I came across one document that referred to the accident as “catastrophic.” I can’t get that word out of my head. It bothers me every time I think about it. It is bizarre reading in black and white that someone, somewhere looked at the data points and decided to make that delineation about your life. Luckily we are all more than the sum of our data parts.
Team McGorty

I don’t see our situation as catastrophic. By definition catastrophic means something that causes ruin. By implication, it suggests something has occurred that is too big to come back from. Both are wrong.

We have been lucky over the past few weeks to meet some amazing people who have given us hope that Dennis, and our family, will thrive. This hope comes not just in words but in how these individuals have lived and pushed themselves further than others thought possible. They have given us the courage to believe recovery beyond expectations for Dennis is possible too. It won’t be easy, victories will happen over years, not days, but it is something to strive for.

Among those that inspire us and give us hope are Janne Kouri and his wife Susan and their non-profit, NextStep, which provides progressive community fitness, health, and wellness facilities for people with mobility challenges. I was lucky enough to meet them at the Next Step benefit earlier this week. I could go on and on about them and what they have created with Next Step, but I think this clip from Good Morning America tells the story best: Very inspired, hopeful, grateful.    

Please show your support for NextStep on facebook!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Proud Father and Son

As we all know, milestone moments in our children's lives are precious beyond words.  On Friday, the McGorty family celebrated Declan's pre-school graduation.  Those of you that know Dennis well know that nothing would have kept him from being there!   You can see for yourself by the look on both of these faces how proud they are of each other!  Happy Father's Day to Dennis and to all of the amazing Dads that give their sons and daughters so much love and courage.  

                                                                         Photo courtesy of Abigail Thomas Photography

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Redefining Victory

From Anita:

In rehab they teach you to redefine what a victory looks like. For anyone newly paralyzed, victory and recovery is one thing: to walk again. But it’s not that simple, the road is long, and the odds aren’t good. In case you don’t catch that the first time, you are told this over and over to ensure it sinks in.

You need to redefine what a success looks like, because with a ton of hard work, prayer and a miracle or two, you can get somewhat better than you are today, but there is no quick fix, no cure, no guarantee. 

To understand what is and isn’t working and why, you are given an overview of the spine. Every vertebrae has a specific job to do. It operates like this from the top down:

·         Cervical (C) 1 and 2 control the head.
·         C3 and C4 help you breath.
·         C5 controls muscles like your shoulders and forearms.
·         C6 moves your wrist.
·         C7 is in charge of the triceps and straightening your elbow
·         C8 bends your fingers.
·         Thoracic (T) 1 lets you spread your fingers.
·         T1 - T-12 controls your chest and abdominal muscles.
·         Lumbar (L-1 thru 4) bends your hips, your knee and moves your thighs.
·         L5 wiggles toes.
·         Sacral (S) 1 points your foot down.
·         S3- 5 controls the pelvic muscles.

Wherever your injury is, Dennis is Thoracic/T-11, you lose function of the circuit below that vertebrae. What you work for every day is to not only gain strength, but to regain ability to do something that you couldn’t do the day before, even if you need to do them in a new way. And if you work really hard and are very lucky, you might get some feeling or function back in a part of your body controlled by a vertebrae closest where your injury was. Each time you can do one thing you couldn’t do yesterday, it is a victory.

Earlier this week I met a woman whose daughter is also a patient. She tells me her daughter’s injury is C5 and with a smile gives me a look that means “so close.” I am now able to understand what she means: If the injury would have been one vertebrae down, her daughter would have had some use of her hand that would have given her an exponentially far better level of independence. If someday she is able to just regain use of her wrist, if nothing else, it would be a triumph. Dennis and I look for our triumph and for this week we’ll take our first victory in getting there.

Dennis’ injury was severe. It’s a complete injury which means there is no (versus just not enough) nerve “electricity” getting to his legs. Earlier this week they tested Dennis for a special electrode therapy anyway. Rare but possible for his type of injury, they can sometimes simulate the current through the legs and from there they can manipulate your legs to move on an exercise machine. Specifically, they put you on a bike, hook up electrodes and are sometimes able to make your legs peddle. Dennis responded positive to the test and did his first session yesterday.

The current they were able to simulate doesn’t have correlation with getting activity back in his legs on his own, but it’s significant because it means he can keep his legs—and the rest of him—much healthier as far as bone density, cardiovascular health, muscle tone, and more. It also buys us time by keeping him in better shape for what’s on the horizon—for a cure that is close but not here, for new and progressive rehabilitation options. It is a victory.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ride for Team McGorty this Father's Day!

A HUGE thank you to MAPSO Tri Club! 

We have just learned that the 8th Annual Father's Day Century Ride will be in honor of Dennis and Team McGorty.  Below is a note from Owen Moore (event organizer). If you would like to join them, please email Owen directly ( or RSVP to Jeremy Beer via Facebook here:

From Owen/MAPSO:
MAPSO's 8th annual Father's Day Century Ride in honor of Dennis McGorty, a fellow athlete, cyclist and father of two children who sustained lifelong injuries from a cycling accident involving a landscaping truck in Westfield two weeks ago.

Each year, riders ask if they can make a contribution towards the expenses put out for the FDC, each year, while grateful for the offer, MAPSO declines. This year MAPSO is making an exception, and a request.

MAPSO is asking all riders to make a $25 or greater contribution to Dennis and his family. Here is the information,

If you plan on riding, please confirm your participation so MAPSO organizers can ensure we have enough beverages and snacks for all of you hungry / thirsty cyclists.

Please forward this email to any rider who may want to join us on the 16th, this includes our friends at Essex Chain Gang, Hilltop Bicycles, and High Gear Cyclery.

Here is the essential ride information.
Start Time: 5:30 AM
Location: High Gear in Millburn
Route: 101.7 miles,

Heading out of Essex, through Union, Somerset, Mercer and Morris counties
Sag Wagon-Provided by MAPSO Multi Sport and High Gear Cycling (Thanks to John, Bryan, Andrew and Nick)

Supplies: Water, Vitamin Water, Gatorade, bananas, watermelon and cliff bars available anytime on the sag wagon.

-Rest stop 1: Mile 39, Princeton, Panera Bread,(609) 683-5222, M/W bathrooms, multiple food options

-Rest Stop 2: Mile 61, (if needed) Neschanic Bridge Park (no restrooms), Sag Wagon supplies

-Rest Stop 3: Mile 75, Pluckemin, Annie's Deli ((908) 658-3354) single bathroom, food, supplies (there is also a Burger King adjacent for more bathrooms )

-Finish: 11:30-Noon, St James Gate, Maplewood, bathrooms, pints and food

Notes regarding the course:
1. All riders must wear helmets
2. Bring a phone, money, ID
3. No headsets, headphones, ear buds or playing/singing of Black Eye Peas songs
4. Road Bikes - please avoid using TT bikes
5. The climbs are not steep, the net is 2657 ft. VERY FLAT!
6. At mile 25, we begin a 10 mile flat along the river, nice road, no shoulders, so a pace line is recommended for the occasional cars
7. The descents are long, and the one beginning at mile 58 is in a state park and has multiple curves and no shoulder for two miles
8. Go to High Gear Bike shop soon (before 6/15) and double check your equipment, especially your brakes
9. If needed, at 5:00 AM, MAPSO will make a weather call announcing delayed start, reroute or cancellation through the Google groups

-This is an unofficial organized ride and rider's participation is 100% voluntary, MAPSO, High Gear, Nick Burton and or Owen Moore are not responsible for any injuries resulting from accidents, altercations, natural events (wildlife, domestic animals), or weather.

-All riders are 100% responsible for their own preparedness including health, capability, equipment,obeying traffic laws and transportation home if stranded.
(example: Dan Michalchuk, broken wheel, 50 mile mark in Califon, NJ in 2007, we left him)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Truly Amazing Week

Likely, many of you are tracking the generous donations to the McGorty Fund via Here's an update after an amazing first week:

So far (on WePay alone) in just ONE week, we've generated $22K+ from 142 wonderful donors!

Please keep the momentum and share the link to the fund with your friends, family, and community. Every little bit makes a big difference for the McGorty family. 

Thank you all for your support and generosity!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cicadas & Strength

From Anita:

The cicadas have been here for weeks. They swarm the entranceway to our house, the ground, the trees, the columns covered in them. Whenever I remember this time, I will remember the cicadas.

Every day I sweep them off the porch and the columns. I put away the broom and by the time I look back out, some have already come back, regrouping where I just cleared off. It seems the billions of cicadas in the northeast have decided our house is their mecca, flocking here en masse.

I have to believe their arrival is not plague, but promise. I’ve learned that many cultures hold cicadas as a symbol of resurrection and rebirth. We’ll take that.

Dennis continues to work hard at rehabilitation therapy. He gets stronger each day. Yesterday he wasn’t feeling great and was given the option to skip therapy. As you can imagine, the answer was “no way” and he powered through even though it was clear that it was the toughest session yet.

He is working hard and is motivated by the love and support of you all.