Lukas Verzbicas pulled ahead in the final stretch of the Thanksgiving Day Oceanside Turkey Trot 5 Mile Race to win with a 25-minute, 16-second finishing time.
The Sandburg High School graduate, who set prep records in his Orland Park days, ran with a record crowd of 10,000 runners and walkers. Verzbicas is on a comeback after suffering a severe bicycle accident in 2012 that had doctors telling his parents he'd never walk again.
"This is my first big running event and race that I won since my cycling accident," Verzbicas told organizers of the Oceanside Turkey Trot after winning the race. "I could have gone harder, but all that mattered today was the win. After the cycling accident and two months in the hospital, many people told me that I would never run again. I have a gift. I was meant to run. All the pain of the accident didn't compare to the pain that I have felt in training.
Verzbicas, a two-time national cross country champion, is trying to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in the triathlon and the 5k or 10k race in track.
"I'm so grateful to be able to run and grateful today to win, running along such a beautiful course along the ocean," he added. "I could not have done this without the entire family of support. All my family, friends, and coaches made this win possible. I'm so thankful to them."