Hero detective trains kids to be strong

Bobby Salerno welcomed his newest group of athletes for an hour of what he calls "organized chaos" for a sweat session Saturday at KEEN FIT.

Dozens of those athletes, some with special needs and others with physical setbacks, packed the small gym 12 stories up in Chelsea for their weekly dose of fitness.

But Bobby's story begins nine years ago.

"I was involved in a police-involved shooting in 2010," Bobby said.

On March 22, 2010, Bobby, a rookie on the NYPD, was stationed in the Bronx. He came face-to-face with a gunman threatening a home health aide at an apartment on Park Avenue. Bobby was first inside.

"Sustained three gunshot wounds to my abdomen," he said. "Left me paralyzed from my knee to my toes."

Bobby's road to recovery took years. He is walking again, wearing a brace on his right leg, and still protecting and serving with the NYPD. He was promoted to detective. 

But his heart and soul belongs in only one place.

"I choose to pay it forward. I choose to give back because it makes me feel good," Bobby said.

He devotes every Saturday before his 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift to help his athletes for that one hour a day.

His "brace brother" is David, 15, who was born with cerebral palsy and used to use a wheelchair or crutches. Now he defies every odd.

"Every day is a new way to get better, so I try to take advantage of that as much as I can," David said. He wears a brace on his right leg, too. 

"I believe that in order to be the best version of yourself, you have to push your limits," Bobby said. "These kids push their limits 110% every time they come here."


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