On June 1, 2015, just one day after completing a marathon, Toran Gaal set out on his Ride Across America, an epic 3,800 mile journey by handcycle. Gaal is cycling from San Diego to Arlington to raise funds and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund. Now more than halfway through his cross-country adventure, Gaal is making his way up and down the East Coast, and will conclude his 63-day ride at Arlington National Cemetery on August 2, where he’ll place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Four years ago, Marine Sergeant Toran Gaal’s life was forever changed when an IED exploded beneath his feet. Comatose for two months, he awoke to find he had lost both legs and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Recovery would be long and difficult–but Semper Fi Fund, a non-profit supporting wounded, ill and injured service members, was there by his side every step of the way. Today, Gaal is thriving, and an active member of SFF’s sports program Team Semper Fi. Now, he’s paying it forward, to help others in their time of need.
Gaal is accompanied by a support vehicle, driven by his friend Brian Riley, a combat-injured Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient. They’ll be stopping in 50 towns and cities, including New York, Boston and Baltimore, along the way.
“Seeing what Semper Fi Fund does with other service members, and what they’ve done for me, is remarkable,” said Gaal. “They’re doing so much good for every branch; I wanted to pay it forward to the next generation.”
He continued, “Adaptive sports, through Team Semper Fi and the Ride Across America, has helped me build my confidence, and I hope this will motivate other service members to get out there. This ride has shown me what I’m capable of on a large scale – I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that I could accomplish this mentally, physically or emotionally. Being on the road is exhausting but it also gives me time to think, and allows me to see things in a different light now—I’m going back as a better husband and a better man.”
Toran is expected to be in Annapolis at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront dock on July 31st or August 1st.