Frye rolls to Cordova 5K victory

Rockingham woman ‘an inspiration ‘ after being paralyzed from the chest down in January car accident

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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CORDOVA — Kandace Frye returned to the Cordova 5K race on Saturday only one year removed from her first attempt on the course.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Kandace Frye, 22, of Rockingham, completes her first 5K using a hand cycle on Saturday at the 3rd annual Cordova 5K. It was Frye's first race since being paralyzed from the mid-chest down as a result of a January car accident.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Kandace Frye, 22, of Rockingham, completes her first 5K using a hand cycle on Saturday at the 3rd annual Cordova 5K. It was Frye’s first race since being paralyzed from the mid-chest down as a result of a January car accident.

The circumstances on Saturday, however, were far different than what she faced in 2013. That’s because four months ago, the 22-year-old Rockingham woman was paralyzed from the mid-chest down in a January car accident. Not quite three months removed from spending more than a month in the hospital, Frye borrowed a hand cycle and used her arms to crank her way to an overall victory in the third annual 5K race at the Cordova School.

“She’s an inspiration,” said Walt Wood, a friend and fellow church member who, along with fellow elite runner Kyle Butler, paced Frye along the 3.1-mile road course. Wood and Butler were on hand to help Frye if needed — she didn’t need it, Wood said — and there to help keep Frye visible to motorists.

It was Wood’s idea that Frye remain involved in local road racing. While on a long run last month, Wood said he had the idea that Frye could race in a hand cycle. The problem with his conclusion was two-fold: Frye would need permission from her physical therapist, and a hand cycle would have to be found.

Both tasks were accomplished. Katie Bigarel, at FirstHealth Outpatient Physical Therapy, agreed it was a good idea for Frye. And friend Todd Richardson, a paralympian, allowed Frye to borrow his hand cycle. Last week, Wood and Frye previewed the 5K course in her new setup; it received a thumbs-up from Frye.

After crossing the finish line first overall on Saturday, “she’s hooked,” Wood said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Anna Rivers, a member of the Richmond Senior High School cross country squad, stretches before the Cordova 5K.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Anna Rivers, a member of the Richmond Senior High School cross country squad, stretches before the Cordova 5K.

Frye was clearly excited about what might be in her future as an athlete again. Prior to the accident, Frye had been a member of the Richmond Senior High School Raiders softball team and after graduating high school in 2010 had worked at the FirstHealth fitness center in Rockingham.

Pete Swails, race co-director, said he had no issues with Frye being the first hand cycle competitor. In fact, he welcomed it.

“I said, ‘of course,'” Swails said.

Swails said the only special arrangements made included a two-minute head start — subtracted later at the finish line — that allowed Frye to navigate the turns without fear of interfering with a fellow competitor.

Now, Frye is focusing on what comes next.

“I want to keep on going,” she said. “I want to see where it takes me.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Kandace Frye, in the hand cycle, is paced by Walt Wood, left, and Kyle Butler during the Cordova 5K.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Kandace Frye, in the hand cycle, is paced by Walt Wood, left, and Kyle Butler during the Cordova 5K.

 

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