California to Florida: Wheeling resident bikes to support fellow veterans
Tracy Sefcik would rather talk about the plight of amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or highlight the work done by others to help veterans.
She'd rather raise awareness for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by years on the battlefield. This is not about her, she says.
Yet, in many ways, it is her story.
Sefcik, a Wheeling resident and Navy veteran, is bicycling 3,142 miles from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida, as part of a fundraiser for the Gary Sinise Foundation. She has raised about $22,000 for the organization, which builds houses for veterans, supports children of slain soldiers and serves meals to military members deploying overseas, among other initiatives.
While she's biking across the country, Sefcik will have to stop along the way for medical appointments. Sefcik has epilepsy caused by a brain tumor. She periodically has seizures.
This is the part she'd rather not dwell on.
"The people I'm riding for suffer a lot more than what I'm doing," she says. "What I have is minor compared to what Gary Sinise does for the military members."
Even when she talks about having epilepsy, Sefcik draws attention to other veterans she's met while receiving care at Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, including veterans of the Korean War and those who returned from a third tour in Iraq.
"It just gets to me, and we keep sending them over there," she says. "We need to step up and help them out."
Sefcik started the journey in early March, departing after a ceremony aboard the flight deck of the USS Midway. Her boyfriend, Martin Conlon, joined her until they arrived in Phoenix. Now, Sefcik is continuing alone, traveling up to 90 miles a day. She expects to reach St. Augustine in early May.
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