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Amputees' cross country bike trek a mission of hope

Times staff

The bicycle trek for the four amputees began more than a month ago in Orange County, Calif.

The journey nears its end today as Joe Sapere, Doc Milligan, Dick Fate and John Cool, each missing a leg, stopped in Largo to visit patients at the HealthSouth rehabilitation center.

Along the way, the men have visited more than a dozen other hospitals, raising morale, and offering hope to patients recovering from recent amputations, or other traumas, like strokes.

They attended a fundraiser at the Holiday Inn Express in Largo on Tuesday night, and will ride from Walsingham Park at 12615 102nd Ave. to the HealthSouth hospital in Largo at 10 a.m. today.

Their group, Amputees Across America, was started nine years ago by Sapere, who lost his left leg in a skydiving accident.

"The message is, 'You can get your life back,' " Sapere said. "We got our lives back, and so can you."

The riders departed on their 3,500-mile cross country journey June 2 from HealthSouth Tustin Rehabilitation Hospital in California.

After today's Largo stop, they will head for HealthSouth Treasure Coast Rehabilitation Hospital in Vero Beach, where they plan to arrive Monday.

Amputees' cross country bike trek a mission of hope 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:23pm]
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