By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Meet Ryan Chalmers. He's rolling from Los Angeles to New York, hoping to inspire and raise money with every push.
"Right when we got into Kansas City it's been phenomenal - people honking, waving, on the sidewalk cheering you on. It's been encouraging to show the awareness we're building is happening," Chalmers, with Push Across America, said.
When he finishes, it will be the first time a racing wheelchair has ever been pushed all the way across the country.
"It's going really well so far. We're on schedule. I've enjoyed the flatlands the last week and a half. We got through the Rockies and that took a little while. It's nice. We had a couple of climbs getting into the city, which were a little rough, but it's been a good day," Chalmers said.
Chalmers was born with spina bifida and has never had complete use of his legs. He's an Olympic para-athlete, but said that never would have been possible without the work of an organization called Stay Focused.
"It brings teens and young adults to the Cayman Islands to get them certified in scuba diving. It's made such a difference in my life," he said.
Chalmers has been with the nonprofit since 2005.
The young man said the freedom he felt under water made him believe anything was possible, including the 4,000-mile ride he's currently on.
"The message we try to get out there is never give up. Find your passion, set goals, stay focused and achieve," Chalmers said. "One (goal) is to raise awareness for all people with disabilities. Really show people, able-bodied or not, if you're passionate and set goals, you can achieve anything."
As he races over mountains and plains - through the wind, rain and heat - that message keeps him going.
"No matter what this is going to hurt. You can't really train your body for six to eight hours in a racing chair. It's going to hurt, but a lot of it is going to be mental. You've just got to push through those days where your legs and arms are hurting. But we've had great support along the way, so it's been very doable," Chalmers said.
Chalmers' goal is to complete his trip by mid-June. You can track his progress and donate to Stay Focused by going to pushacrossamerica.org.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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