When you have a disability, everything takes a monumental amount of energy. Sometimes it takes all of me just to get out of bed! Then I met someone who, despite his disability, finds giving back to others the most energizing force of all.
Last month I had the pleasure of meeting paralyzed Army Veteran, Ricky Raley, and his handcycling team. Ricky’s story begins when he joined the Army National Guard in 2004. From 2007 to 2008 Ricky served one tour in Iraq where, on one of his missions, his vehicle was blown up by an IED (improvised explosive device) and he sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). While Ricky was able to return home with a Purple Heart, his life was struck with tragedy again six months later when he was paralyzed in a car accident. Between the TBI, PTSD and now paralysis, it’s no wonder Ricky found it difficult to transition back to the life he had before Iraq.
That’s when Boot Campaign
Many times, soldiers coming back from a war zone are not given a choice about where they are treated. Boot Campaign helps veterans with invisible wounds, like TBI and PTSD, find the perfect facility to treat their unique set of needs. By taking the time to get to know each veteran, the organization is able to pair them with a facility that is likely to offer them the best possible outcome for rejoining life at home with family and friends. Now, as a brand ambassador, Ricky rides to raise funds for Boot Campaign. In 2018, Ricky rode his handcycle over 1,500 miles from New York to Pinellas Park, Florida and raised over $150,000. This year Ricky rode over 12,000 miles from Dallas to Florida and again raised a record amount of money! Ricky rides with his team that includes fellow Veterans Chip Street, Larry Hinkle, and Jon Miller. The team is like a brotherhood, and they give each other strength to push through each state and reach their goal. They are a beautiful example of banding together for change. You can follow their fundraising efforts through his hashtag #livelacedup.
Ricky told me his paralysis made him the man he is today. He is not sorry about his injury because he is now giving back in ways he never imagined possible. Ricky has found a way to bring awareness and donations to an organization he believes saved his life and the lives of many other veterans. Finding passion and purpose is one of the best ways to adjust to a new disability. Ricky did not let the invisible wounds he sustained in Iraq or his spinal cord injury stop him from finding a way to give back.
Ricky definitely knows how to live the best life possible!
I have always believed if you move the focus from your situation and work on giving back to others, everyone feels better. Giving back to others is what feeds Ricky’s energy. I hope Ricky and his team inspire you to go out and live your best life possible!
Joy Nix Numotion ATP, Ricky Raley, John Miller and Karen Roy