Three South Carolina Brothers Cycle Across America to Support Their Father and Uncle Who Have A Blinding Disease
4,200-Mile Bike Ride Will Raise Funds for the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ Sight-Saving Research
The Garrigan family (left to right): Paul, Sr. ; Becky; Lauren; Paul, Jr.; David and Thomas.
Motivated to make a difference for their father and uncle who are losing
vision to a genetic eye disease, three brothers from Greer, South Carolina, are
embarking on the trip of a lifetime: a 50-day, coast to coast biking trip
across the United States.
The Garrigan brothers – Paul, Jr., 24, David, 21, and Thomas, 19 – were inspired by their father, Paul Sr.’s, own cross-country cycling trip he took 25 years ago with a childhood friend. “Growing up we heard stories of him riding 100 miles a day, sleeping in frat houses, and eating peanut butter sandwiches by the loaf,” says Paul, Jr. “Visions of biking grandeur began to populate our minds.”
They’re looking forward to the brotherly bonding time, the spectacular sights and the memorable encounters along the way, but this cycling excursion has a greater purpose. The brothers will be raising awareness and funds through the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ Race to Cure Blindness program, to benefit research that could help save and restore sight for millions, including their father and uncle. Paul, Sr., and his brother, Mike, both have Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that robs both hearing and vision.
“We’ve seen first-hand how blinding eye diseases impact people’s lives and want to do as much as we can to help advance treatments and cures. So, as we tour America, we’ll be handing out business cards to our fundraising page and engaging anyone and everyone in the fight against blindness,” says David. “Our dad is the most positive person we know, and he’s a light to everyone he meets. We want to give back as a thank you for all he has given us, our family and others around him.”
For the close-knit brothers, the obstacles and timing fell into place perfectly to take the journey this summer. Paul Jr., a 7th grade math teacher at Greer’s Riverside Middle School has time off of work. David, a 2013 Clemson University grad, won’t begin his job until August. And Thomas, who will be attending Anderson University in the fall to run cross country and track, got his coach’s blessing to take the trip during prime training time.
After a year of planning, they’ll begin their trek on Thursday, June 6, in Medford, Oregon, poised to conquer 4,200 miles, cycle in 13 different states, and navigate through natural wonders such as Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon. They plan to camp most nights, and expect to arrive at their end destination of Charleston, SC, sometime in late July.
To follow the Garrigan brothers’ adventures along the way, visit their blog at www.garriganbrosbikeride.blogspot.com. To donate to their fight against blindness, visit www.FightBlindness.org/RaceToCureBlindness, click on “Find a Participant,” and search the last name “Garrigan” to get to their Band of Brothers fundraising page. To coordinate an interview with the brothers, contact Allie Gebhardt at 410-423-0643 or AGebhardt@FightBlindness.org.
About the Foundation Fighting Blindness
The Foundation Fighting Blindness is a national non-profit organization driving the research that will lead to preventions, treatments and cures for retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases that affect more than 10 million Americans. Since 1971, the Foundation has raised more than $500 million as the leading non-governmental funder of retinal research. Breakthrough Foundation-funded studies using gene therapy have restored significant vision in children and young adults who were previously blind, paving the way for additional clinical trials to treat a variety of retinal degenerative diseases. With a coveted four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the Foundation also has nearly 50 chapters that provide support, information and resources to affected individuals and their families in communities across the country.