Perris, CA (PressExposure) June 01, 2011 -- As families prepare to head out on summer vacations, California resident Chet Dyreson is embarking on a trip of his own - a 3,900-mile trek across the country. Dyreson won't be flying or driving a car, however. He'll be riding in a gas-powered wheelchair he built himself.
Dyreson, 48, was paralyzed from the chest down in a motocross accident 11 years ago. The goal of his cross-country trip is to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries and urge support for research that will hopefully lead to a cure.
"Spinal Cord Injury is one of the few ailments for which there is not a surgery or medication to repair or, at the very least, restore some quality of life," says Dyreson. "With the advancements in Stem Cell Research, I believe the great minds of our country can repair Spinal Cord Injury."
Departing from Perris, Calif. on May 30th, Dyreson's route will take him through Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and finally, Washington, D.C., where he plans to meet with members of Congress to secure their support for finding a cure for paralysis through spinal cord research. A former construction company owner now on full disability, Dyreson hopes his 26-day journey will culminate with him shaking President Obama's hand.
"I would love to meet with President Obama and discuss how together we can put more funding in place at the state and federal level," says Dyreson. "Also, we need to put in place a plan to keep labs from performing the same failed experiments and ensure that successful experiments do not set idle because there is no funding for the next step."
Dyreson is funding the trip himself, although he will gladly accept donations of gift cards for gasoline, restaurants, and hotels. He estimates the cross-country trek will cost him roughly $8,000 -- $4,000 of that to fuel his wheelchair and the van that will follow him and provide a place to sleep when funds are not available for a hotel room.