The Daily Ardmoreite

Riding for awareness

By Sandi Wolfe
Staff Writer

In a bicycle ride from Oklahoma City to Dallas, Craig Gavras and Tim McCarthey are creating awareness that there is life beyond prosthesis. Through the Limbs for Life Foundation, Craig Gavras began working with others who are receiving prosthesis to help them understand that it is not the prosthesis that limits them. They put limits on themselves. Beginning at 9 a.m. Monday at the Oklahoma State Capitol, Gavras and McCarthey began the first cycling project for the foundation. Making a stop in Ardmore Tuesday, they spoke with students at Lincoln Elementary School today before moving toward Texas. The ride will end at Texas Stadium in Dallas for the Sunday game. At the game a ceremony will be held before kickoff in acknowledgment of Project 50, as the ride is called, for the foundation. Gavras, McCarthey and a rider who will join them in Gainesville, will be recognized for their efforts. Through this project, 50 limbs will be provided for those in the United States who are in need of a limb and are either without insurance or on a low income. Donations gathered provide for this service. "The legs Tim and I are wearing are $28,000, but the national average for a prosthesis is $8,000 for below the knee and $6,000 for above the knee," Gavras said. The foundation is based in Oklahoma City where McCarthey was a bicycle police officer. He was injured July 3, 1999, in a motorcycle accident and learned of the foundation and Gavras while he was in the hospital watching television. Gavras lost his leg while working on the Dallas Police force five years ago. "My first response was that I was going to be on crutches, my wife was pregnant, would she still want to be with me with only one leg," Gavras said. "The support from my family has been great. To them it's just a natural thing. My kids have never seen me without a prosthesis, so I find when I sleep in that they bring me my leg and tell me it's time to get up." Reactions that the two receive are, at first, curiosity. According to Gavras, people tend to get used to it over time. "If I saw a leg like this I'd stare too," Gavras said. "It doesn't bug me as long as they come up and ask a question." The total trip will be 208 miles with their feet fastened to the pedal with velcro. "We want people to see us and say that if we can do it they can too," Gavras said. "We want those who have a prosthesis to know you can live life the way you want to live it." Gavras also said that the two have been receiving donations on their trip also. "Police work shows the bad side of human nature, and this is allowing us to see the good side of human nature," Gavras said. McCarthey said the support they have gotten from the communities has been the most rewarding part of the trip to him. The trip was supported by several different sponsors including Days Inn. "What has not been provided for us through sponsors, the communities have been real supportive about," Gavras said. All the money collected by Project 50 goes directly to the 50 limbs being supplied for others by the foundation. Those wishing to donate to the Limbs for Life Foundation may call (888) 235-5462