ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Walter Boynton, a retired firefighter and emergency medical technician, suffered a spinal cord injury on the job roughly five years ago that left him with limited mobility on his left side.
The Gloversville, N.Y., native has transitioned from a career devoted to helping others, to now relying on the assistance and kindness of others to foster his newest passion: rowing.
Boynton can be found gliding through the Hudson River three days a week for the Albany Rowing Center, overcoming the limitations of an injury that ceased his 17-year career.
Boynton adopted rowing as a means of staying active despite his impairment, and he has found solace on the water.
“It’s just so calm and peaceful,” said Boynton. “You’re just out there…by yourself, knowing that I’m…pushing this boat along. I can’t do other sports like I used to. I can actually get in this (boat), and accomplish something. It’s just a joy knowing that, “hey, I made it here; I made it back,” and was able to do something to keep myself active.”
At the outset of Boynton’s new adventure in the spring, it was a struggle for him just to get into a boat. But it didn’t take long for him to begin thriving at the sport.
Boynton has already joined the Albany Rowing Center’s masters program. And nearly one month removed from taking gold in his first adapted race, Boynton’s confidence has soared.
“When I started rowing, and they put (me) out in the scull, I would go to the far shore, and I didn’t want to be five feet off the shore,” said Boynton. “I was afraid I was going to flip over; I didn’t have the technique. Now, at this point, let me go. I don’t care what part of the river we’re in. I’m not afraid to go up to, say, the radio tower, which is my goal, or do different things.”
Witnessing the coalescence of Boynton’s courage and the willingness of his teammates to aid in furthering his rowing career has been a gratifying experience for the club’s president, Rebecca Clark.
“Walt being willing to accept help where he needs it so that he can get out, and do what he does has been really incredible,” said Clark. “Along with that, you know, seeing teammates be willing to work with Walt, and adopting the attitude that whatever level you’re coming from, we’re all here to get better, and to push each other, and to help each other out; seeing that expressed through working with Walt has been incredible.”
Boynton delivered a heartfelt message of appreciation to the team at Albany Rowing Center.
“I’ve got to thank them for everything they’ve done,” said Boynton. “Everything they’ve brought out in me, and then realizing that there are so many…just good people that are willing to help, and sacrifice a little of their own rowing time.”