For the past five years, Gulliver Academy senior Connor Kuci has spent many hours working at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
“I worked at the rehabilitation lab looking at the mechanics of how they increase motor function in the arms and legs of people who are in wheelchairs,” he says. “It was purely voluntary. It was just for my understanding of engineering and to get myself familiarized with what’s out there.”
Kuci says engineering came naturally, but after seeing all the technology at the Miami project it made him want to start specializing in bioengineering. He believes that seeing the equipment used at the rehab lab and trying them out will help him in the future.
“I wanted to get an idea of what’s out there already and then further understand the mechanics and see how they can be improved,” he says. “I started when I was in the eighth grade because my aunt was on the board of directors.”
His aunt told him about the dangers of trampolines so he wanted to get an idea of the consequences.
“I was fascinated by the Miami project since I was little because of my aunt,” he says“I wanted to see if I could help in any sort of way to help them get close to a cure.”
At Gulliver, Kuci is in the engineering program and the environmental club. He also swims and plays water polo. He admits that he prefers water polo, but he does enjoy swimming competitively to stay in shape. The Gulliver water polo team won the state championship last school year and hopes to defend the title this year.
Because of his love for swimming and his involvement with the Miami Project, Kuci started the Swim-a-thon to raise money for the Miami Project and Gulliver’s Annual Fund
“I wanted to incorporate swimming and a way to benefit the Miami Project,” he says. “I came up with the idea in my freshman year. It has only grown.”
This year’s Swim-a-thon was almost a washout. Kuci says luckily it rained before and after but not during the event.
“It was fantastic. Before the event we were freaking out,” he says. “We didn’t know what was going to happen.”
But even with the rain challenge, the event raised big bucks, up about $15,000 from the previous year’s take.
“Ever since the first year we’ve been looking for ways to improve it,” he says. “We try to make it as fun as possible. Yeah, you’re swimming a mile, but a lot of the kids from the school volunteer.”
Kuci says to participate students are required to pay a minimum of $50.
“To volunteer, they get community service hours,” he says, adding that it’s mandatory for the swim team to be involved.
Now that swim season is over, along with the college application season, Kuci is hearing back from potential schools. He has already been accepted to the University of Florida, Auburn and the University of Connecticut. However, he has not decided which school he will attend.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld