<img class="" style="float: right;" src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2003-07_07\/AAA-group-shot-1.jpg" width="330" height="237" hspace="4" vspace="4" \/>\r\n\r\nA group of guys who called themselves the "Three J's" approached Ohio Willow Wood in late 2001 for sponsorship. They had an ambitious mission in mind: riding bicycles across the United States from Newport Beach, California, to Jamestown, Virginia. When we read the sponsorship request and trip proposal, we did not realize that all three of the riders were wearing OWW's Pathfinder" foot. Only after speaking to the trip organizer did we make the connection.\r\n\r\nMany of you followed the ride by Internet last year, and people turned out by the tens and sometimes hundreds to greet the Three J's along the way. Through the generosity of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospitals, AAA hosted formal visitations with amputees and families.\r\n\r\nBecause of the success of last year's trip, Ret. Col. Joe Sapere\r\nhas planned for the mission to continue. He proposed a plan for the\r\n2003 ride to Ohio Willow Wood--now a Gold Level Sponsor.\r\n\r\nAlthough Joe will be the AAA 03 official organizer, webmaster,\r\nsupport vehicle driver, and navigator, he will not be an official\r\n"rider" this year. In order to share the experience and establish a\r\nnetwork of amputees who can serve as ATTITUDE Ambassadors, Joe and\r\nthe other 2002 riders, Jerry Suggs and John Keating, passed the\r\nbaton to three new riders: Jim DeLong, Mark Farrell, and Bruce\r\nHibbett.\r\n<table class="clsTableCaption" style="float: right; width: 46.6414%; height: 347px;">\r\n<tbody>\r\n<tr>\r\n<td style="width: 100%;"><img src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2003-07_07\/AAAs-bike-shop-8-10.jpg" alt="(From left), Joe Sapere, trip organizer; Mark Farrell; Bruce Hibbett; Jim DeLong." \/><\/td>\r\n<\/tr>\r\n<tr>\r\n<td style="width: 100%;">(From left), Joe Sapere, trip organizer; Mark Farrell; Bruce Hibbett; Jim DeLong.<\/td>\r\n<\/tr>\r\n<\/tbody>\r\n<\/table>\r\nJim DeLong, 52, a left below-knee amputee, lost his leg in a landmine explosion in Vietnam in 1971. Jim later attended business school and, after working for the state of Ohio, went into the building contracting business. Now retired, Jim and his wife Trisha, who will join AAA '03 as a support driver, travel extensively in their motor home. Jim is a passionate Harley Davidson rider and enjoys horseback riding, hunting, and backpacking. The father of three boys and granddad of six girls, two boys, and one more on the way, Jim has not let his amputation stop him from living life to its fullest. He recently underwent an Ertl revision and was fitted with Alpha\u00ae Liners and the Pathfinder.\r\n\r\nMark Farrell, a director in National Decision Systems, a consulting company, has been a below-knee amputee since April 2001. His right leg was crushed in an oilrig accident in 1976 during a summer job while attending the University of New Mexico. Mark\r\ngraduated from Texas Tech University in 1984. He married, had two\r\nchildren, and--determined not to consider himself disabled--began\r\nbicycling and studying aikido.\r\n\r\nIn spite of 20 surgeries, increasing pain and functional\r\nlimitations caused him to choose amputation 25 years after the\r\naccident. After his amputation, Mark took skiing and snowboarding\r\nlessons and has been ice-skating and rollerblading.\u00a0A user of Alpha\r\nLiners and the Pathfinder foot since May 2002, he has recently\r\nbegun experimenting with running and plans to try skydiving and\r\nparagliding.\r\n\r\nA climbing accident in the Wyoming Grand Teton mountains in 2001\r\nleft Bruce Hibbett, 51, a left below-knee amputee. Bruce received a\r\nmasters degree in social work from the University of Missouri,\r\nColumbia, in 1985 and works for the Missouri Division of Family\r\nServices. He plans to obtain a physical therapist assistant (PTA)\r\ndegree and, by using this knowledge combined with his own\r\nexperiences, to help other amputees through rehabilitation. He\r\nlives in Jefferson City with his wife Cheryl and daughter\r\nElizabeth. Bruce was fitted with a Pathfinder foot in June 2001 and\r\nhas used it while hiking, climbing, and canoeing.\r\n\r\nThe team kicked off their ride on May 31, 2003, in Seattle,\r\nWashington, and plan to arrive in Jacksonville, Florida, July 25.\r\nJudging by their personalities and having already witnessed several\r\nof their shenanigans, this trip is likely to be lively. Check their\r\ntravel dates and route of over 4,400 miles on <a href="https:\/\/opedge.com\/356">www.amputeesacrossamerica.com<\/a>. If you are\r\ninterested in being a host facility for a visitation of AAA '03 for\r\nyour patients, please call Meredy Fullen at 800.553.3445, ext.\r\n106.