HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) -Lee Cooper-that’s a name you’ll want to remember.
He’s a man biking the nation in honor of his best friend, who died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
He’s raising money for ALS research, by biking from state to state, and he’s cruising through Killen, Alabama.
Cooper has a slew of medical conditions that would cause many to stop doing things for themselves, much less for others.
At the age of three, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, which he overcame within two years.
At 13, he met his late wife Lisa, and with the consent of both sets of parents, married her two years later at 15.
Two years after marrying, Cooper and his wife Lisa, who was six months pregnant at the time, were struck by a drunk driver, killing his wife and unborn child.
“Cooper survived but was severely injured and in a coma for four and a half months. He suffers extensive nerve damage, and was temporarily paralyzed. He suffers from a gait impairment and is partially blind,” reported the Salisbury Post, a local newspaper in North Carolina.
He started bike riding at the age of 20 after he learned to walk again. Cooper took up cycling because he was bored.
As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, a couple of years ago, Cooper was on a charity bike ride when a car clipped him, shattering his ankle.
In both accidents, the driver never stopped-but neither did Cooper.
With a metal brace and his unwavering determination, Cooper decided to get back on two wheels, his only form of transportation, and help others.
Despite being blind and dyslexic, Cooper will be riding along, with just a backpack, a tent and a bag of medications.
“His form of dyslexia is that he reads upside down, so he turns his phone or any printed material upside down to read it clearly. He even flips keyboards over so he can see them better,” reported the Salisbury Post.
Cooper suffers from allergies and asthma but has found that herbal supplements work better than any medication.
Cooper is like The Little Engine that Could- he never gives up. That’s a good thing because doctors keep finding new ailments that would cause others to derail.
He recently learned he has a hematoma behind his right eye that will have to be addressed. He’ll be 43 in July.
His trip will take him two months to complete, traveling 60 miles a day with an 80-pound pack on his back. He started his journey in North Carolina and pedaled his way to Georgia. Now, he is here in Alabama. After his visit in Alabama, Cooper will ride along to Tennessee, and from there to Missouri. Then he will pass through his home state of Indiana, before riding through Kentucky and finishing in Virginia.
On top of his bike trips and fundraising, he is finishing his Computer in Technology Business Software Support degree from Bluegrass Community & Technical College in Lexington, Kentucky. He has an Associate in Arts from Jefferson Community College and is a Phi Theta Honor Society student.
Cooper says he doesn’t plan on stopping after this ride.
“It’s all up to the man upstairs and it is basically up to him,” Cooper said. “If he would give me someone that I can love and hang out with, otherwise I’ll be on my bike.”
To make a donation, visit http://webky.alsa.org/goto/LeeCoopersALSRide.