If the thought of driving a car across the country seems taxing, imagine pushing yourself from coast to coast in a wheelchair.
For more than two months now, 24-year old Ryan Chalmers has been pushing his way from Los Angeles to New York City in a racing wheelchair. Along the 3,300-mile journey, he has suffered calloused hands, painful knees, sore shoulders, sandstorms, extreme weather, darkness and 13 flat tires — but nothing seems to deter his spirit.
The Churchville, N.Y., native was born with spina bifida, a condition in which the spinal column does not close all of the way, leaving Chalmers with only partial use of his legs. A born athlete, he started playing hockey, basketball and soccer at the age of 8 with the help of crutches, and was on the track team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He became a member of Team USA at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
For this grueling cross-country journey, he has been pushing himself the equivalent of two to three marathons a day. (That's a map of his path below.)
“Stopping was never an option for me,” Chalmers told the NY Daily News. “It really comes down to the reason why. And I have a phenomenal reason.”
He credits the nonprofit organization Stay-Focused for helping him reach his potential, and now he is dedicated to raising money for the organization that works with disabled children.
With the finish just a few days away, Chalmers hopes his incredible feat will inspire others to accomplish their goals.
If you’re in New York and want to cheer Chalmers on to his remarkable finish on June 15, he will be entering Central Park through the W. 67th Street entrance. Fans are invited to attend starting at 9:30 a.m. For more information, visit Push Across America.
See Chalmers in action in the video below.
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