BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A paralyzed U.S. Army veteran is hand cycling across the country to raise money for Boot Campaign’s Health and Wellness Program, and on Good Friday, he made a stop in Baton Rouge.
The goal of Ricky Raley’s #RaleyRoadTrip is to raise money for the national non-profit organization’s health and wellness program, which gives veterans access to individualized, comprehensive, and holistic providers to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic pain, self-medication, and insomnia.
Raley joined the Army National Guard in 2004. During one mission, the truck Riley and his teammates were riding in tripped an IED (improvised explosive device) and Raley sustained a TBI and was awarded the Purple Heart. Then in 2009, after returning from Iraq, Raley was involved in a nearly fatal wreck, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
While struggling with his injuries, Raley discovered the Boot Campaign Health and Wellness Program and decided he wanted to help other veterans have access to those resources. So he decided to hand cycle across the country to raise awareness.
“The first reaction is confusion when you come across us down the highway in hand cycles. It gets a little bit weird. Not too many people have seen what we’re riding. But after that, the amount of hospitality and generosity we’ve seen from the people of Louisiana is unrivaled,” said Jon Miller, who is riding with Raley.
Raley left Dallas, Texas on April 13 for a 1,200-mile journey to Ft. Pierce, Florida. He hopes to complete the trip in 15 days. His next stop after Baton Rouge is Slidell.