When Clairton Police Officer James Kuzak responded to a robbery call in April of 2011, he was shot five times in the chest, arm and side. He is currently using a wheelchair for mobility, but hopes to regain use of his legs someday with a daily regime of physical therapy. Although his spinal cord was not severed in the shooting, he is paralyzed from the waist down.
This past weekend, MobilityWorks and The Mobility Conquest team led by Brian Austin were fortunate enough to have the experience of helping Officer Kuzak take a very special part in the 1st Annual Western Pennsylvania Benevolent Foundation Heroes Ride.
Held on Saturday, July 14th, Officer Kuzak rode a Conquest Motorcycle on the entire route, much to the tears and cheers of his family, friends and fellow officers along the way. Kuzak was an experienced motorcycle rider before being injured – and even though the weather brought a little rain, this was his first chance at feeling the wind again.
The theme for the inaugural ride was appropriately established as “WE NEVER RIDE ALONE”. Starting at the Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse in Burgettstown PA, the ride went through scenic Washington County, ending with a buffet dinner and entertainment. Despite his current physical condition and struggles, Kuzak has been very active with encouraging others and with participating in events to help the community. Fellow officer John Dunlop, who was also injured in the line of duty offered these words of praise for Kuzak: “If you looked up the definitions of hero and survivor, you would find Officer Kuzak’s picture”.