TAMPA — A paralyzed veteran has finished a two-week, $1,500 fund-raising ride that started in New York, setting out from Tampa at 9 a.m. today in his hand-crank cycle and reaching the finish line in Pinellas Park just before 1 p,m,
Ricky Raley is raising money for the Texas-based Boot Campaign to help veterans suffering from "invisible wounds of war," including traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, insomnia and self-medication.
The Raley Road Trip started Aug. 13 at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan and finished at the Wounded Warrior Abilities Ranch in Pinellas Park. He started the final stretch Saturday morning at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa.
#RaleyRoadTrip reached the finish line at 12:55 PM EST today. This marks the end of @rickyraley's two-week, 1500+ mile handcycle journey, but his mission to combat invisible wounds in not over. Retweet to show your support and visit https://t.co/HDmuojwNK8 to donate. #veterans pic.twitter.com/eWF0KCqUaH— Boot Campaign (@BootCampaign) August 25, 2018
Raley is a former Indiana Army National Guard Soldier with a Purple Heart medal from a combat injury in Iraq and was paralyzed in a 2009 truck accident back home.
He has been averaging about 130 miles a day on the road trip, riding a hand-crank cycle made by one of his sponsors — Top End Wheelchairs of Pinellas Park. Mike DeLancey, a founder of the Wounded Warrior Abilities Ranch, rode alongside Raley during the trip. DeLancey is also a paralyzed veteran, injured in Iraq.
The ranch is still under development and is scheduled for a grand opening next week.
Raley went through an intensive four-week rehabilitation program offered by the Boot Campaign and is raising money to help other veterans enter the program, as well. As of this afternoon, the road trip had raised $64,000 of its $150,000 goal.
Since it was founded by five women in 2011, the Boot Campaign has raised more than $19 million and given more than $2 million annually to help service members, veterans and their families, according to the group’s website.