California to Florida: Wheeling resident bikes to support fellow veterans

 
 
Updated 4/12/2018 6:15 AM
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  • Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling is on a more than 3,142-mile bicycle trip that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida.

      Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling is on a more than 3,142-mile bicycle trip that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling warms up her bike legs for the more than 3,142-mile journey that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida to raise money for the Gary Sinise Foundation.

      Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling warms up her bike legs for the more than 3,142-mile journey that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida to raise money for the Gary Sinise Foundation. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling looks over one of the maps she will use for her 3,142-mile bike journey that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida as part of Gary Sinise Foundation fundraiser.

      Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling looks over one of the maps she will use for her 3,142-mile bike journey that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida as part of Gary Sinise Foundation fundraiser. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling warms up her bike legs for her 3,142-mile journey that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida as part of a fundraiser for the Gary Sinise Foundation.

      Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling warms up her bike legs for her 3,142-mile journey that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida as part of a fundraiser for the Gary Sinise Foundation. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling warms up her bike legs in her living room before heading outside to prepare for her 3,142-mile journey that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida. The trip will raise money for the Gary Sinise Foundation.

      Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling warms up her bike legs in her living room before heading outside to prepare for her 3,142-mile journey that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida. The trip will raise money for the Gary Sinise Foundation. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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.

Learn more about Sefcik's journey and the Gary Sinise Foundation at www.facebook.com/crosscountrycycle4vets and www.crosscountrycycle4vets.com.

• Do you know of veterans helping other veterans, doing good things for their community or who have an interesting story to tell? Share your story at veterans@dailyherald.com.

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