PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Traveling cross-country is a rigorous undertaking no matter your method of travel, but that’s especially true for a former Marine who’s looking to complete the trek on a hand-powered bicycle.
Toran Gaal was greeted by members of the Providence Police and Fire Departments as he arrived in the city early Tuesday morning.
Gaal lost both his legs and his right hip while serving with the Marines in 2011. Now, he’s using his arms to peddle a three-wheeled bike, and he’s doing it to make sure others coming back from combat have the resources they need.
The Providence Fire Department headquarters was the 51st stop on Gaal’s venture.
“We came into Providence and the police and fire department greeted us a few miles out, and that alone just wakes you up because you sit there and talk to them for a while,” he said.
Fellow wounded veteran Brian Riley is on Gaal’s tail every mile in a gray minivan. Along the route, they’re raising money for the Semper Fi Fund. So far, they’ve pulled together more than $30,000 to help other wounded vets and their families.
Gaal said the peddling gets tiring, but the motivation from his family and his fellow soldiers who didn’t come home keeps him pushing.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys pay the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and I dug down deep and used them as internal motivation to kind of keep going and knowing that they are looking down on me and don’t want to see me give up,” he explained.
The ride was originally intended to be from San Diego to Arlington. Tomorrow Gaal will be in Boston, which he added to his route after meeting with survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing this past Spring. He plans to arrive in Arlington August 2.
Visit Gaal’s website for more on his cross-country trek, or to donate to the cause. You can also follow #RideToranRide on social media. He has a Facebook page, as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts.