Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dusty Ride

Dusty Franz will spend the next two weeks speeding down the shoulders and sidewalks of central Florida's roadways at five miles an hour.

The Ruskin resident is not traveling by car, but rather a motorized wheelchair. His journey started Friday morning from the Sebring Moose Lodge and will take him 200 miles through Highlands County, Lake Wales, Winter Haven, Lakeland, Brandon and finally back home.

Covering between 12 and 15 miles every day at 5 mph, Franz estimated he'd be back in Ruskin on Nov. 21.

He set out on this journey as a fundraiser for the Moose Legion's charities, which benefits children who are without parents or come from broken homes and senior citizens who are in need of assistance.
The title is simple enough: Dusty's Ride.

"My wife thought I was crazy for doing this, because of my physical shape that I'm in," Franz said. "It was just something that I thought I had to do at this point."

Four years ago, Franz's life was forever changed when he was seriously hurt in a car accident. The U.S. Air Force veteran underwent 12 surgeries, with the most recent on Aug. 20, and has two more to go.
Franz suffered a spinal cord injury and lost all movement from the waist down.

"Certain things inside are shut down," he said. "My stomach's shut down, and there's one surgeon in the state that's working with this pacemaker, like they do for your heart, and they put it on my stomach and they're trying this out to make sure that I can get food down."
Franz was on a feeding tube until a month ago and underwent a dramatic weight loss, dropping from 206 to 123 pounds.

Since starting to eat solid foods again, things have improved.

"Right now, I'm doing good," Franz said. "I'm up to 136. Gaining weight slowly."

A portion of the money raised will go toward helping other veterans.

Slow ride ... take it easy


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