18-year-old Jon Litzkow named "Rehabilitant of the Year" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

18-year-old Jon Litzkow named "Rehabilitant of the Year" through Covenant Medical Center

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

You'll often find Jon Litzkow on the basketball court or hitting a volley at the tennis net. The Waterloo West grad was the first person ever in Iowa to participate in high school cross country in a wheelchair.

He also holds the all-time Iowa record for the 100, 200, and 400 meter dashes in track. He just earned another honor, Rehabilitant of the Year through Covenant Medical Center.

Gary Gilles, Jr. presented him with the award, which honors current or past rehab patients for their accomplishments.

"Not just with what they've gone and done for themselves personally, but as well as some of the things they've done for the community," said Gary Gilles, Jr.

Litzkow suffered a spinal cord injury when he was backed into by a truck at just two years old.

"I broke my legs, my left arm. I cracked my hip, punctured a lung, and tore my liver. My spine swelled up, which caused paralysis," said Jon Litzkow.

He went through rehab at Covenant Medical Center about four years ago after a pressure ulcer on his lower back put him on bed rest for more than two months, but it didn't slow him down for long.

"Always out there trying to make himself better, trying to make others better as well. So it's not just all about him," said Gary Gilles, Jr.

Litzkow encourages others with spinal cord injuries to give adaptive sports a try.

"Once you get out there and get involved, you meet so many people and it just makes you feel good. It'll make every day life easier," he said.

The 18-year-old said being in a wheelchair shouldn't get in the way of living your life.

"There's always a way to do something. Even if someone tells you no. You can find a way, and you can do it," said Jon Litzkow.

Litzkow recently completed his first marathon, and next fall he plans to attend the University of Illinois on an athletic scholarship for track. He hopes to study mechanical engineering in college.

Besides honoring Jon Litzkow, Covenant Medical Center also presented Exceptional Persons, Inc. with the Community Achievement Award for its service with the rehab unit.

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