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Rolling with the Punches

Cover some miles with Kevin Detwiler to aid Marylanders with disabilities

Kevin Detwiler with fellow participants at last year’s Walk, Run & Roll race.

Kevin Detwiler, a contestant in April 25th’s Walk, Run & Roll at Historic St. Mary’s City, rolls with the punches with positive outlook, determination, stamina and lots of exercise.
    Thirty-six years ago on a March day, then seven-year-old Detwiler got hit with the punch that changed his life. On a bike outing with his family, Detwiler was struck by a car, suffering traumatic brain injury. Doctors feared a permanent vegetative state.
    Those first dire predictions never came true. Instead, Detwiler awakened, spending months relearning how to swallow, eat and talk. Then there were months more in and out of hospitals and rehab centers.
    The out-going, soccer-playing second-grader learned to use a wheelchair and walker to counter left arm and leg paralysis. Despite short-term memory lapses, he went on to live life to the fullest — graduating from high school and community college, substitute teaching at all grade levels and volunteering in his spare time.
    “If you apply yourself, you can do anything, no matter what your circumstances,” Detwiler says.
    Five days a week, he devotes three hours to exercise and therapy; each weekend includes a visit to the gym with his dad.
    “It’s very important to keep my body moving,” Detwiler says. “I have no pain because I do my exercises.”
    At home, a gym is one of many retrofits built by his father, a retired aerospace engineer, to make it easier for Kevin to live independently. Appliances are lowered to wheelchair level, springs are attached to doors so they will close automatically behind Kevin and his bed is designed with poles so he can roll over without assistance.
    Detwiler mows his one-acre lawn — and his parents’ three-quarter-acre lawn — on a modified John Deere tractor. He grows strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and squash in three raised vegetable gardens.
    “My window of mobility is very limited,” Detwiler says. “I enjoy getting out as much as I can: mowing, gardening, being in the sunshine.”
    A tennis court next door to his home gives Detwiler the open space and freedom he craves and the exercise his body needs. On its stable surface, he is ambulatory with his walker.
    Race events also keep Detwiler on the move. In March, he volunteered at the Lower Potomac River Marathon in Piney Point. And this month is his third Walk, Run & Roll.
    “I need to interact with people,” Detwiler says. “Help them, keep active and just have fun.”

Join Kevin Detwiler in the third annual Bay-Community Support Services Walk, Run & Roll to benefit Marylanders with disabilities. Sat. April 25 at Historic St. Mary’s City. Registration 7am; event 8am. $25/race day (children 12 and under free):