Dressed in a white jump suit with a black Elvis Presley wig and confined to a wheelchair, 57-year-old Paul Erway dubbed himself The King of Roll. Paralyzed from about mid-chest down since a 1981 car accident, Erway maintains a sense of humor, along with the grit to have pushed his way through more than 70 marathons.
His latest was the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon.
Erway lives in Shelbyville, Ky., and works as a rehab products consultant. Initially, he struggled with the life-altering impact of his accident.
“That first year,” he said, “three times, if I’d have had a gun, I don’t know what I’d have done to myself.”
Racing wheelchairs helped turn his life around. At New Orleans, he rolled with Cat Howard, who was running her first marathon. Howard is the executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Louisiana. The two met when Erway was speaking at a rehab facility.
Howard said she wanted to tackle a marathon and Erway encouraged her to meet the goal.
“When you tell Paul you’re going to do something, he stays on you to get it done,” Howard said. “He’s a motivator.”
Erway is moved to help others by a message that was passed along to him years ago. Said Erway, “A friend told me, ‘The more people you can help, the more you’ll be blessed.”