Paralyzed Woman Claire Lomas Completes London Marathon Wearing Bionic Suit
By IBTimes Staff Reporter | May 9, 2012 5:31 PM EST
Claire Lomas completed the London Marathon on Tuesday despite being paralyzed from the waist down.
Lomas, 32, wore a bionic suit to make the 26.2-mile journey. It took her 17 days to finish, which disqualifies her from receiving a medal. But many who did finish the race in time decided to donate their own medals to Lomas, in honor of her incredible efforts.
Lomas had arranged for donors to sponsor her progress, and she managed to raise over $138,000 for an organization called Spinal Research, which supports medical studies in order to fight paralysis.
Virgin, the company that sponsors the race, awarded Lomas with its annual trophy for endurance.
Holly Branson, daughter of Virgin owner Richard Branson, handed that trophy the triumphant finisher. "She has done the most amazing job," said Holly. "It was so emotional when she crossed that line. Tears welled up in my eyes and everyone was cheering."
Lomas hasn't been able to stand since a horse-riding accident in 2007 left her paralyzed from the chest down. Her horse, Rolled Oats, tossed her off his back during the Osberton nhorse trials in Nottinghamshire, reports The Guardian. The fall punctured her lung and broke her ribs, back and neck.
"After my accident, for a few days, you think, why, why has this happened? But it has. And that's that. You just need to find new things to do," she said.
But this year, a $75,000 bionic suit called ReWalk enabled her to walk again. The suit was designed by an Israeli entrepreneur and is marketed by Argo Medical Technologies.
"It's amazing, after five years of sitting down, to be back on my feet," she said to ABC earlier this year.
At first, she could only take about 30 steps a day. But in order to complete the London Marathon, she walked an approximate average of 3,200 steps each day, for 17 days straight. It was grueling work, but Lomas was determined.
That's why the late finish was an incredible achievement. "It's a moment I'm going to treasure for the rest of my life," she said in an interview after the race. "I couldn't believe it when I turned up this morning in the taxi to start, and I thought it was just a busy day in London. Someone told me they're all there for me. I was like, no!"
It wasn't just the fans that inspired Claire Lomas to go on; she was also supported by her husband Dan and young daughter, Maisie. Both greeted her at the finish line.
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