A combat-injured Marine is trying to prove that anything is possible as he bikes his way across the country.
Toran Gaal is approximately halfway through his trip, which started in Brawley, California, and, as of Tuesday night, included a stopover at the Hesston AmericInn Lodge and Suites.
Gaal was injured on June 26, 2011, in Afghanistan and, as a result, lost both legs and suffered a severe brain injury. He is trying to show others that there is hope after a disability.
“People see [me making the trip] and use that as some hope,” Gaal said. “By being out here, we're showing the world that a disability isn't a disability, it's just a limitation.”
Gaal is raising funds on his ride, which is slated to end Aug. 2 at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virgina, for the Semper Fi Fund.
The fund helped out his family following his injury, so Gaal sees this as a way to pay it forward.
“[The fund] was important to [the recovery from my injury],” Gaal said. “But also they were also in contact with my family that day and started scheduling flights so they could get out and see me in the [Washington, D.C.] area. They got my family out there, took on any financial burdens that were going to be put on my parents by spending time with me in the hospital. And just constantly being there and being that beacon of hope for my family.”
Gaal doesn't have a set number of miles he travels as he makes his way east, instead traveling to set cities at each stop, but estimates he puts in about 70 to 80 miles a day. Prior to his stop in Hesston on Tuesday, Gaal spent two days in Hutchinson.
To date, he has raised about id="mce_marker"1,000 for the Semper Fi Fund.
For more information on Gaal's trip across America, visit his website atwww.torangaal.com.