DARTMOUTH, Mass — DJ Bishop and Ryan Feeney are inseparable friends.
“DJ is a tough dude, a real tough kid,” said Feeney.
Through ups and downs, this duo says a bond that started with high school baseball now keeps them crossing the finish line of the Falmouth Road Race year after year since the first race they ran together.
“After that first race crossing that finish line having all those fans there cheering so loud. It felt like a walk-off home run. It was the first time I got to compete again as an athlete,” said Bishop.
Bishop was playing baseball at Westfield transferring to Bridgewater State when the two reconnected. But that summer of 2016 changed the course of DJ’s life.
“One night I couldn’t see how shallow the water was and I dove off the dock and instantly I was paralyzed. I broke my neck in the C-4, C-5 and C-6 vertebrae,” said Bishop.
He was paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors thought he’d make little progress but they didn’t know DJ Bishop.
“Just having that work ethic of never giving up and just being determined and giving my all 110% every day it’s truly paid off,” said Bishop.
Rehab is his way to prove himself. It took a year to drive his wheelchair with a joystick. And he plans on making even bigger strides.
“I’m still not where I want to be but one day I know and I do believe I will walk again,” said Bishop.
Feeney says people see them running together in Falmouth but there’s a lot of work that goes into race day.
“It’s just a highlight of 365 days of work and effort and all the sacrifices he makes to get there,” said Feeney.
Every year there’s another milestone or hurdle to overcome. Last year a wheelchair tire blew out but they finished.
“Every year it seems like there’s a crazy story that gets us to the finish line but the best part if that race is you never know what’s going to happen,” said Feeney.
But one thing is certain. With every step forward, their bond and friendship continues to grow stronger.
Bishop is working on starting a foundation called “Bishstrong”. He says it’ll be his way of giving back. The goal is to fundraise and buy equipment for others with paralysis and mobility issues to help them remain active and achieve as much independence as possible.
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