Disabled jockey Michael Straight visited the Gulfstream Park winner's circle following the seventh race Jan. 3 to raise awareness of advancements being made in the treatment of paralysis.
Paralyzed from the chest down in a 2009 spill, Straight walked into the winner's circle with the help of the bionic exoskeleton manufactured by Re-Walk, which provides upright ambulation for persons with chronic, disabling disorders, such as spinal cord injuries.
Fittingly, the seventh race was won by Cool Man Walkin.
Straight was welcomed into the winner's circle by Hall of Fame riders Angel Cordero Jr., Chris McCarron, Jose Santos, Bobby Ussery, Walter Blum, and Edgar Prado, as well as members of the Gulfstream jockey's room.
Straight and the other riders greeted Michael Martinez, who suffered a severed spine injury during a spill in 2010. A fundraiser to provide Martinez with a bionic exoskeleton was announced. Donations are being accepted by His Place Ministries, c/o Michael Martinez, 1055 Papaya Street, Hollywood, FL, 33019.
Straight's bionic exoskeleton costs approximately $87,000 with physical therapy.
To watch Straight walk with the aid of the bionic exoskeleton, click here.