Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert

Paralyzed bikers stop at DQ

Riders traveling from Washington to Maine to bring awareness to Paralyzed Veterans of America


A trip starting in Anacortes, Wash., and finishing in Bar Harbor, Maine, takes 51-hours by car, 1,003 on foot and on a bicycle, about 260 hours...but what about a handcycle...and what is a handcycle?

People eating at the Dairy Queen in Malta had that question and many others for three gentlemen who stopped at the restaurant last Wednesday afternoon for lunch and to take a break from the highway during the trio's 3,257 mile trip from Washington state to Maine, handcycling to promote an organization near and dear to their hearts.

"We are riding for ourselves, but we are also riding to bring awareness of our team, which is the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Sports Fitness," Matthew Robinson said, sitting atop his handcycle after eating his lunch.

Robinson, a resident of Syracuse, N.Y., and his friends Gerard Ah-Fook and Richardo Rincon, both of Tucson, Ariz., started the morning in Chinook and made it to Malta by lunchtime. All three men are paralyzed, and Ah-Fook and Robinson both served in the U.S. Navy for four years. They said they started their cross-country trip on June 2, and need to make it to Maine by August 20, because the 21st is an important date back in Arizona for Rincon.

"I've got to get back for classes on August 21, but that is how it is," Rincon, a student at the University of Arizona, said.

Thus far, the three gentlemen unanimously voted that the best leg of their trip had been at Glacier National Park where they were able to bike up the Going to the Sun Road.

The lowlights of their trip thus far have been construction, flooding and, as of Wednesday morning, mosquitos.

"They got us pretty good today," Ah-Fook said.

Ah-Fook, who was a Petty Officer in the Navy, lost mobility in his legs 13-years-ago following a motorboat accident and took up handcycling following the advice of a physical therapist. Today, he and his two teammates are about halfway through their trip across the top of the U.S.

"We are guys in wheelchairs and we are disabled vets and a student," Ah-Fook said. "We are just looking for a challenge and an adventure, and, more importantly, to prove to ourselves that we can do this, and that other people can do this. You just have to put your mind to it and we have been inspired by the people that made this trip before us."

For more information about the Paralyzed Veterans of America, visit


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