On Sunday, April 13, at around 10:45 a.m., Eric Engoron fulfilled his goal.
Starting in front of Yang Hall with his walker in hand and suitemate at his side, he set out for Circle Road. About three miles, three hours and 14,000 of what he calls dips later, he collapsed in his dorm hallway, victorious.
Engoron, a senior computer science major, has cerebral palsy. He said he never walked more than a mile before that Sunday. But walking Circle Road was a mission he set for himself when he started at Stony Brook.
“In my freshman year I said to myself one day I’m going to walk Circle Road,” Engoron said. “But I forgot about it and put it in the back of my mind.”
According to WebMD, about 10,000 infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year. There are degrees of CP, and Engoron said his is on the mild side. Though he cannot walk, he has full use of both of his arms.
“People don’t use walkers as much as I do,” he said. “I’ve pretty much used my walker my entire life.”
Engoron said on that Sunday morning, the weather was perfect and the decision was immediate.
“I said ‘You know what, I’m going to do this,’” he said.
In order to move his walker, Engoron must first do a dip—pushing the walker and then pulling himself forward. His estimated 14,000 dips over three miles yielded badly swollen tricep muscles.
He said his journey to the baseball fields was the easiest part, but the real battle was going uphill after that.
“I stopped along the way, and collapsed twice near the Health Science Center,” he said.
His walking partner and suitemate of four years was senior Dominik Wegiel, who said his job was to motivate Engoron because at some points, Engoron wanted to give up.
“I would keep walking ahead to get him to catch up, giving pep talks, blasting rock music and calling him profane names to motivate him,” said Wegiel. “Those parts were enjoyable for me.”
By 1:30 p.m., Engoron had circled the campus and returned to Yang Hall but did not quite make it to his dorm. After his arms finally gave out in the hallway, he lay there for 30 minutes. The floor was still damp from a recent radiator explosion, but he did not mind—soon would come the Advil, ice and immobility.
That same day he posted a picture of his triumph on Facebook, where it quickly gathered shares and hundreds of likes. Currently, it has over 400 likes.
“We laughed a lot even during the hard moments, and it was a great experience to be a part of Eric’s conquest of Circle Road,” Wegiel said.
Engoron admits all the fame and recognition makes him feel cool, but that is not why he did it.
“I didn’t do it to be inspirational,” he said. “I did it to challenge myself.”