In the fall of 2016, triathlete Dean Otto was enjoying one of his daily cycling jaunts down Providence Road when his life literally changed, mid-pedal. He was struck by a truck and awoke to find himself in the middle of the road, his bike wrapped around him. Little did he know that he had suffered a dangerous spinal cord injury.

Thanks to the 2-minute response by Medic, the expertise of clinicians in the Emergency Department at Carolinas Medical Center, and the swift arrival of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine’s Matt McGirt, M.D., the stars aligned that day for Dean Otto. He was in surgery within hours of his accident.

When he was well enough, Dean transitioned to Carolinas Rehabilitation, where he spent two weeks. Miraculously, two months later, he was up and walking.

Defying expectations, Dean completed a half-marathon in Napa Valley exactly a year after his crash, with the most unlikely of companions — Will Huffman, the truck driver who nearly ended his life, and Dr. McGirt, the man who saved it (all pictured, left).

Thankful for his miraculous recovery, Dean continues to raise money to help others with spinal cord injuries. On March 26, 2018, staff and patients from Carolinas Rehabilitation celebrated Dean’s success in raising over $64,200 to support the “Life After Spinal Cord Injury Program” and the Adaptive Sports and Adventures Program at Carolinas Rehabilitation (Atrium Health).

On behalf of Carolinas Rehabilitation staff and patients, we are grateful to Dean and his many supporters for their inspiring gifts and dedication to rehabilitative medical programs that will continue to transform lives.