Chicagoan beats odds, swims from Alcatraz Island to shore 19 years after becoming a quadriplegic

Rob Heitz was told 19 years ago that he would never walk again after taking a dive into unfamiliar Lake Michigan waters.

When Heitz was 22 years old, he was invited by his boss to go out on his business partner's boat.

It was about dusk when they took the boat out, and he thought the water was deep enough.

Heitz was always a swimmer growing up, and said he always felt comfortable in the water.

Without thinking twice, Heitz said he dove into the water, and unfortunately, it was only two to three feet deep.

He ended up shattering vertebrae in his neck, and becoming a quadriplegic. 


After nearly two decades, Heitz beat all odds and swam from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shoreline last Friday.

Heitz is still considered a quadriplegic, and says he still can't feel the left half of his body, walks with a limp and has some issues with his hands.

Four years ago, Heitz started a charity called Paralysis Recovery Foundation to financially assist individuals experiencing paralysis.

"I'm trying to make the best I can out of this second chance at life and pay it forward," said Heitz.

For more information on the foundation, click here.