Being a 52-year-old non-traditional student is hard enough, but being a 52-year-old student who had his leg amputated one year ago would have to be even harder. Jeff Martin, a junior computer science major, was diagnosed with diabetes. Last year was he was told he would have to have his leg amputated or lose his life, due to an infection in the bone of his foot.
“Infection was spreading and we had to get rid of it,” Martin said. “I lost my leg a year and 10 days ago. Since then, on June 9, 2010, I got my prosthetic and on July 24 I rode the bike portion of a triathlon. “
Not only did he lose his leg just a year ago, but he began to ride in the bike portion of a few triathlons. In September he rode 15 miles in a Make-a-Wish Foundation fundraiser. Martin then began to think of something much larger.
“I needed to step it up a notch, so this summer I am riding my bike all the way across America,” Martin said. “From 15 miles in an hour, to all the way across America: I guess that is stepping it up. I don’t know where I will go from there. What can you do beyond that one?”
The event will be long and grueling, but for a great cause. The riders will be stopping by rehabilitation centers to speak with recent amputees and tell them from a first person point of view how their lives will be affected.
I’m going to be the youngest one on this ride,” Martin said. “There will be two in their 70s, one in his 60s and one in his late 50s. We are going to start in California and end in Florida. We are going to stop at 20 rehabilitation centers along the way. The main point of the ride is to stop and give hope to the ones who are hurting. We are thinking we will encourage some people and give them hope, and that is why we are doing this ride.”
The ride will be a way to pass on some help from people have already experienced it. Most students at Western do not know what the ride is for, but once they hear it, it only shows how much people care. Kynslie Otte, a junior English major, was very intrigued by what Martin would be doing.
“It is crazy to think of what he will be doing,” Otte said. “Once I heard he had only done 15 miles before and is now going to go across the country—that just blows my mind. It’s wild how some people will do so much for other.”
It is an adventure to go from one side of our nation to the next, but to be able and speak with people and help their lives out along the way just adds to how great the experience may be. Casey Carpenter, a senior philosophy major, was just as amazed as others.
“To think he just had his leg removed a year ago and now he is doing something so big,” Carpenter said. “Going from riding a few miles for foundations to riding across America in less than a year is just incredible. Just to spread some hope to everyone who could use it.”
The adventure will start on June 1 and go for nearly eight weeks until July 22. The winds may blow the riders all around, but the experience they will experience may be worth all the troubles that come along with a cross-country ride.
“One of the rehabilitation centers will be a Shriner hospital,” Martin said. “It will be all young children. I think it will be the toughest and the most rewarding, all in the same day. I will take all the prayers I can get right now.”
The men involved in the ride will be keeping a daily blog about how the trip is going throughout the entire eight weeks. Anyone can check in on the tour at either www.amputeesacrossamerica.com or on www.winningthebattles.com.