Sunday’s Napa Half was a big moment for Dean Otto, who one year ago was in the hospital suffering from temporary paralysis after being hit by a truck while cycling.
This weekend, he was joined by that same truck driver and the doctor who helped him recover out on the Napa Half Marathon course.
According to the Napa Valley Register, Otto was on a bike ride in 2016 when he was accidentally hit from behind by 27-year-old Will Huffman in North Carolina; Huffman immediately tried to render aid but Otto knew his injuries were serious and knew to stay still.
“Doctors determined he had minimal sensory function below the waist and a CT scan revealed that his spinal column was crushed inward,” the paper reports. “He also had a broken pelvis, a broken tailbone, a broken leg and several broken ribs.”
Matthew McGirt, MD, a neurosurgeon, performed surgery and just one day after recovery, Otto made a bet: If he could wiggle his big toe, Dr. McGirt would have to run a half marathon alongside him. Otto obviously won that bet.
He knew that learning to walk again would be a battle and wanting to heal emotionally, as well, he met with Huffman and forgave him.
“He was there by my side – there to aid me,” Otto said of Huffman. “He didn’t run off and hide. He did the honorable thing.”
As they formed a friendship, Huffman decided to join Otto and McGirt in their race and they chose the Napa Half Marathon for its date one year after the accident.
People have been so inspired by Otto’s story and the mens’ journey to a half marathon that they even were guests on Ellen and will soon be featured on The Today Show.
The trio finished the race in just under two hours and can be seen finishing side-by-side-by-side in a video shared on Facebook.