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Paraplegic cycles through Marion

Scottish wheelchair racer supports charity the best way he knows

Staff writer

On a hot, windy Thursday, Kenny Herriot rode through Marion County on a cross-country trek to raise awareness of childhood cancer.

Herriot, a record-holding wheelchair athlete, is riding for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. The charity, named after cancer victim Alexandra Scott’s original fundraiser, supports research of childhood cancer.

Herriot, of Aberdeen, Scotland, is paralyzed from the waist down because of a motorcycle accident in 2000. He is a full-time athlete, and holds the British record for a wheelchair marathon, he said.

He began his cross-country ride April 27 at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif. If it continues according to schedule, he will arrive June 7 in New York City.

Herriot had the idea for the ride after a similar charity ride the length of Great Britain in 2008, he said. He wanted a more difficult challenge, and riding across America was ideal.

An American friend researched possible charities for which to work. Herriot chose Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in part because he has two boys of his own.

“This is a very worthwhile cause, for which I am honored and privileged to raise awareness for,” Herriot said.

Herriot wakes up at 6 a.m. every day, and is riding by 7 a.m. He rides about 20 miles between stops for water and food, riding an average of 89 miles per day.

Two friends driving along in a recreational vehicle support him. They spend eight to nine hours on the road each day, depending on terrain and weather.

Rides like this are the best way for him to help charities, Herriot said.

“You do your thing; I’ll do mine,” Herriot said. “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

While eating lunch in Marion, two groups stopped to ask who he was and for what he was riding. Herriot was happy to tell them about the ride and the charity.

He was surprised how well his body and equipment were handling all of the use. He is sore at night, but he recovers by morning.

“The chair is standing up to all this punishment, which is incredible,” Herriot said.

Attitude is most important for the ride, he said. Every day he gets on his cycle knowing he will finish the ride.

Utah was the most physically grueling ride, because of mountains and bad roads. It was also beautiful through the mountains and desert.

The highest point of the ride was 11,400 feet above sea level in Monarch Pass, Colo.

Wind has given Herriot trouble in Kansas, but roads in Kansas have been the best of the trip so far.

“When I rode into Kansas from Colorado, it was like riding on glass,” Herriot said.

For more information about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, go to www.alexslemonade.org.

Last modified May 28, 2009

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