Ryan Chalmers has been an inspiration to many over much of his life. Now, with the help of ALMS Champion racer Scott Tucker, and other sponsors, Chalmers has completed a 3,000 mile trek across the country — in his wheelchair. The Push Across America campaign found Chalmers pushing his wheelchair from Los Angeles to New York city in just 71 days. The 24-year-old US paralympian arrived in Central park on June 15th. The goal of the endeavor was to build awareness for persons with disabilities and to raise money for teens with physical disabilities. The money raised will go to the nonprofit Stay-Focused which works with such teens.
Chalmers began his quest in Los Angeles on April 6th. Using only his arms, he pushed his racing chair through cities, up mountains, and across the Great Plains. He was accompanied by Roger Muller, founder and president of Stay-Focused, as well as six others including a two-person documentary crew. Support vehicles drove ahead and behind Chalmers during the entire trip. The 71 day schedule included pushing 60 miles every other day and taking 14 rest days.
Muller recruited Chalmers to join Stay-Focused in 2005. Chalmers learned to SCUBA dive there and then became a mentor with the group. Chalmers was born with spina biffida, but has been competing in sports since he was eight-years-old. In college he narrowed his focus to track. He went on to finish fifth in the 2010 L.A. Marathon and eventually earned a spot on the 2012 US Paralympic team and competed in London at the Paralympic Games. He plans to compete again in 2016.
“Ryan is a very inspiring guy,” said sponsor Scott Tucker, “I continue to be impressed by his tenacity and perseverance and I wanted to help bring his story to as wide of an audience as possible.”
Tucker was able to meet with Chalmers as he came through Kansas City. Tucker showed off Level 5′s race cars and spoke with Chalmers about the goal of Stay-Focused to inspire young people with disabilities.
“Scott really got what we were trying to achieve and the awareness that we’re trying to build, and just understood right away that we’re athletes just like everybody else,” explained Chalmers “So it was really cool just to be able to chat with him and really get to know someone who understands the messages that we’re trying to get out. It really uplifted me and encouraged me going forward.”