You can help Ray finish his ride

You can help Ray finish his ride

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Injured and in pain from an accident last week, Ray Spooner says he won't be able to complete his ride across America by bicycle. But if you're willing to help, you can log the bike miles for him.

The terminally ill Urbana nurse midwife with ALS who set out to raise $50,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association said he plans to finish his trip from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla. by car, and he's asking folks to help make up the deficit in the miles he can't pedal this way:

Ride your bike, donate the miles and log them in a new "Ride for Ray" website. And if you'd like to send Spooner a picture or a brief video of yourself, too, he'd sure like that.

The 56-year-old Spooner retired from the Carle health system this past August with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was less than a full week into his coast-to-coast fund-raising and awareness ride for the MDA when he got too close to a curb and was thrown from his bike, hitting a large boulder. He suffered broken ribs, broken vertebrae, a concussion, a collapsed lung and a broken arm, and spent a night in the hospital.

Monday morning, as he and his wife, Rae, were packing up and preparing to leave the Phoenix area and continue on the road, Spooner was looking ahead.

"It is what it is, and we are moving on down the road," he said.

How he's feeling: It took him 15 minutes to get out of bed that morning, and he's looking forward to getting the brace off his arm eventually, and he's in pain "only when I walk and breathe," he said.

He hopes people will continue to support this cause, Spooner said, and depending on how quickly his injuries heal, he may even be able to log some more bicycle miles himself. People have offered to ship different kinds of bicycles that may be easier for him to ride, such as three-wheelers and tandem bikes, he said.

He guesses they'll make it to St. Augustine, Fla., he said, but "whether I ride that last part of the way, I can't be sure at this point."

Spooner's wife, Rae, said such an accident happening was something she and Ray were both worried about before they set off on the trip.

"But in the five days we did ride, we could have been in a place with no phone reception. We were a mile from a trauma center."

A couple of other reasons to be thankful, Rae Spooner says: The arm he broke was his "bad arm" and if you saw the rock her husband landed on, you'd know he could have very well smashed his face on it.

"He walked out of the hospital in less than 24 hours," she said.

Rae Spooner said there has been an outpouring of generosity and she wants to thank everyone who's helped and offered support and everyone who continues to do that. Many people have written. They've had places to stay along the way and donations continue to be made to the MDA in connection with this ride. Spooner has raised $46,276 for the organization so far.

"People are so eager to help us finish this in a way that they can help," she said. "It's just amazing to me."

Take the members of Sinai Temple in Champaign, for example, where Ray Spooner has been a "long-time, very important member" for many years, according to Jessica Kopolow, the executive director of the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation.

This Sunday, the temple is holding an adult and kid bike ride to raise miles for his cause. An adult ride will begin at 10:00 a.m. and from 12:45-2:00 p.m. the temple parking lot will be blocked off for kids to rack up some miles.

"The children will take laps around the parking lot and can ride anything with wheels, so bikes, scooters, wagons, whatever they want," Kopolow said. "We felt it was important to do what we can to help."

To donate miles to Ride for Ray:

News-Gazette staff writer Nicole Lafond contibuted to this report.

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