Health Check: Paralyzed boxer raises money for adaptive equipment

Gary Balletto

Gary Balletto was once the International Boxing Union world lightweight champion and a contestant on the reality show "The Contender."

Now, his fight is outside the ring.

Balletto fell and broke his neck in June while working out in his backyard.

He recently told an audience at a Warwick YMCA breakfast that he's thankful that the Newman Y in Seekonk has adaptive equipment like a functional electrical stimulation, or FES, bike. It stimulates the leg muscles so they can move with help.

"The FES bike is the key to my recovery," Balletto said.

He's on one four days a week. But he lives in Cranston, and the adaptive equipment is in Seekonk.

"I think every YMCA in America should have these special pieces of equipment. Just in Rhode Island alone we have over 45,000 handicaps that possibly could use some of these pieces of equipment," Balletto said.

He's holding a fundraiser so one of the FES bikes can be purchased for the Cranston Y. It's a start, and he's very hopeful about his future.

"I'm very hopeful and I know I'm going to walk again," Balletto said.

Balletto's Fantastic FES Fundraiser Fete will be held at 39 West, 39 Phenix Avenue in Cranston at 6 p.m. on May 19. For more information, call 401-943-0444, ext. 105.