3,142 miles, 16 seizures, 2 months: Wheeling cyclist finishes ride to support fellow veterans
Tracy Sefcik isn't done.
Yes, the Navy veteran from Wheeling finished bicycling across the country a week ago, dipping her tires in the Atlantic Ocean two months after departing from San Diego.
She surpassed her goal of raising $25,000 for the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports veterans like herself. And she did it all while battling epilepsy, suffering 16 seizures on the 3,142-mile trek that ended in St. Augustine, Florida.
But Sefcik still has plans for more. She's already planning her next trip, a trek along the West Coast from Canada to Mexico in 2021. She'll spend part of the trip with firefighters to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In an interview Wednesday, Sefcik reflected on her recent trip, recalling the strangers who left her laundry detergent at a Texas hotel, police officers who took her out to lunch and the many people along the way who donated to her cause.
"I met wonderful people all across the United States," she said.
The last couple of months tested her mentally and physically. She had an emotional breakdown during rush hour in El Paso, Texas, as drivers honked and crowded her off a narrow, busy road. Strong winds through the hill country of Texas strained her knees. Seizures required her to stop to regather herself.
Still, if Sefcik had to describe her recent trip using one word, it would be "amazing."
"Amazing through the people that I met, amazing going through all the different states, amazing that I made it," she said.
On her final ride into St. Augustine, Sefcik received a hero's welcome. As she completed the final stretch, the local sheriff's office, police department and beach patrol shut down 5 miles of roadway while AMVETS riders followed her.
Sefcik remembers turning the final corner to see family members, including her two sons. That's when she became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry as she pedaled toward the finish.
"I'm not like this very important person, but I felt like this was all for an important person," she said.
To donate to Sefcik's fundraiser for the Gary Sinise Foundation, visit www.crosscountrycycle4vets.com. She's accepting donations until July 31.