Pair promotes Limbs for life

Craig Gavras and Tim McCarthey rode into Davis Tuesday on the second day of their five-day bicycle trip. Now, it's not uncommon to see bikers in Davis - they barrel through in the Hills of Oklahoma triathlon or meander along as tourists. However, these guys are biking for a cause - not a trophy. Gavras and McCarthey are both amputees and are biking for the Limbs for Life Foundation. As part of the Project 50, they are working toward 50 limbs for amputees who can't afford them. Their 208-mile trip began Monday at the Oklahoma State Capitol and will end at Dallas on Friday evening. On Sunday, they will be a part of a pregame presentation at Dallas. This is the first time either has biked for Limbs for Life, and it's not something the foundation does across the country. It's unique to them - both bike as part of their exercise regime. They didn't train specifically for this ride - and both said it was tough getting up Tuesday morning after riding all day Monday. They average about 42 miles a day, and after lunch at Main Street Restaurant on Tuesday, they were headed to Ardmore where they spent the night. They are followed by a van driven by Jim Foster, a prosthetist at Hanger-Sabolich Prosthetic and Research Center in Oklahoma City. Foster provides backup for the two in case they have a problem with their prosthetic legs. McCarthey lost his leg in an accident on July 3, 1999. He is a Bethany city police officer and was on the job when he was hit by a motorcycle that was driving 91 mph. His rehabilitation has been just short of miraculous, and Foster credits that to his good physical condition before the accident. Gavras visited McCarthey about three months ago. "He showed me what all I could do," McCarthey said. Gavras was a Dallas police officer five years ago when he lost his leg. He said he's had about eight different legs since his accident and soon will be trying out a new microprocessor knee. "I've seen lots of changes (with artificial limbs)," Gavras said. While some people still get a "wooden leg," the new models have suction sockets, hydraulic knees and flex feet, Gavras and McCarthey have athletic versions. "A lot of material they (prosthesist) use comes form NASA and Department of Defense research," Gavras said. "I prefer to call it research for life. Everything comes together…there's a trickle down effect." (Editor's note: Thanks to all the folks who called to let us know the location of the men as they rode from Pauls Valley to Davis.)