August 7, 2006
by Bryan Garner
Vero Beach, FL -- Three amateur cyclists just completed a very long journey, turning heads and touching hearts just about everywhere they rode.
A. J., Gary, and Joe just accomplished something few people would ever try. They rode their bicycles across the country, spanning two months, and over 3,700 miles.
Perhaps most impressive of all, the three riders covered the distance with just three full legs. Each of them, an above or below the knee amputee.
"For us to go 20 miles is like an average person doing 40 or 50," said Amber "A. J.." Johnson, a 2nd grade teacher.
Johnson says the miles weren't nearly as tough as the talks they found along the way. Every stop they made, the trio visited rehabilitation centers to talk with patients about their own struggles and goals.
"Every time you go to a place like this a Healthsouth or a Shriners, you see all these people who are in the same situation you were in a few years ago," Johnson said.
"They've taken their own adversity and put a real positive spin on it and are now sharing it with other people as a way to motivate people to do really well," said Pat Parden, CEO, Healthsouth Treasure Coast.
A. J. says for her, riding a bike is just a way to send a message -- that sometimes healing is just a matter of putting your mind to a goal and not giving in. "I try to make everything I do worthwhile and fun and challenging."
The group call themselves amputees across America, and they set out on a cross country trip like this each year. They do collect donations to help fund the project.
If you'd like to learn more, check out www.amputeesacrossamerica.com
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