How far would you go to create awareness for a message that you genuinely believe in? Would you go as far as creating a post on social media about it? Do you think you could get to the point of telling someone in person about it? Could you even go as far as giving up money to help spread the news? Think about this question for yourself and then read the story of today’s guest. Not only has our guest done all of the above for what he feels strongly about, but he’s also put thousands of miles under his feet to ensure that his message is spread across the country, literally!
This week, we’re joined by William Galloway. After suffering a brain injury, the New Jersey native has dedicated his life to seeking care and raising awareness for other people with disabilities. How is he doing this? By riding his recumbent bicycle across the United States of America! Yes, you read that correctly! We were able to catch up with William as he was making his way through Elko to head back East, completing his sixth-round trip voyage across the country! According to William, he put over twenty-three thousand miles on his feet by doing this, and his first trip across the US took a little over three months to complete!
Thank you for taking a break from your ride to speak with us, William! We’d like to use our first question to get to know your story a bit. How did your initial injury happen, and how did that lead to you riding your bike across America?
“I’ve always been a bicycle nut; I love bikes. One day, I got hit in a crosswalk by a car. After that, I couldn’t remember a lot. Even when I talk about it today, I think I know what all happened, but I’m not one hundred percent positive. I do know I spent nine months in the hospital.
“I’ve come a long way to even be able to have a conversation like the one we’re having. As time went by from all the therapy, healing, and medications, I knew I wanted more. I went from assisted living to a group home, and then a group home to low-income housing. It was hard to adjust to things for a while, and my medications made me really irritable. Eventually, my doctor gave me information on the Amen Clinics (a group of mental and physical health clinics that work on the treatment of mood and behavior disorders). I just decided to pick one that was on the West Coast in California! So, I took off from my home in New Jersey on my three-wheeled bike, and by the time I got to the clinic, my story had gone viral!
“After getting help after a certain amount of time, I didn’t have any place to be. The homeless in the area would come out and steal stuff off my bikes while I was in restaurants. So, I decided to leave the area and take off across the country again towards Massachusetts!”
What has this journey meant to you, William? Why are you doing this?
“I’ve been on a journey figuring out how I’m going to get help. I would ask for help at different shelters and programs all over the country, but I’m not on drugs or an alcoholic and didn’t want to be treated like one. If you walk into some of those places with white teeth and assets, they’ll question what you’re really doing there. Nobody wanted to check out into depth what I was going through back in New Jersey. Nobody has tried to offer me a job while trying to understand my disability, and I don’t want to be somebody’s local homeless person. So, I decided to turn this into a Forest Gump thing! I didn’t want to stop until my story got out!”
How has it been for you out on the road? You’re out in the elements for hours and miles every day; are you staying safe?
“I do worry about getting killed out here. I’ve been in below-zero weather. I have almost been run off the road. Truck drivers have tried to swing their trailer by me. I’ve slept out here alongside I-80 before because I just get so exhausted that I just have to sleep. But I can’t let all of that get to me and stop what I’m doing because I’ve met a lot of kind and passionate people throughout this, too. I’ve met people who will stop and give me food, help me get to the next time on freezing nights, and tell me to keep doing what I’m doing because they also have a family member with a brain injury.”
As we’re speaking for this blog, this is your second time passing through Elko. What has stuck out to you about our little community?
“When I came to this town a year ago, my bank account was messed up, and I wasn’t able to get a deposit I needed. So, I wasn’t able to eat. I went over to one of your shelters, and the lady who ran it was very caring and passionate. She knew I needed some help and some rest. One of your bicycle shops here even donated a bike to me! That was unexpected!”
Thank you for joining us again, William. Please be safe out there, and we look forward to catching up with you again the next time you’re out this way! Is there anything else you’d like to share before you get back out on the open road?
“None of this was planned. As I said, I knew I wanted something better, and the atmosphere in which I was in was depressing. I don’t regret ever leaving and doing this because I want people to know that there are people with disabilities who need help but are not getting it. I don’t want this message to die off. As long as I keep getting the support, I’ll keep doing this.”
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See you around, Elko
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