Cross-country suburban cyclist plans her next trip for veterans

 
 
Posted11/8/2018 5:33 AM
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  • Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling plans to complete a 2,500-mile bicycle trip in August 2021 to raise funds for the Oscar Mike Foundation. She has already finished a 3,000-mile cross-country trip to support veterans.

      Navy veteran Tracy Sefcik of Wheeling plans to complete a 2,500-mile bicycle trip in August 2021 to raise funds for the Oscar Mike Foundation. She has already finished a 3,000-mile cross-country trip to support veterans. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Something was missing for Tracy Sefcik after she completed a grueling bicycle trip fundraiser across the country last spring.

She finished the trek with friends and family as she dipped her tires in the Atlantic Ocean, culminating a 3,000-mile trip to benefit fellow military veterans. Sefcik, of Wheeling, remembers fondly the many gracious people who helped her along the way and the AMVETS riders who followed her to the finish line.

Yet she describes feeling that her life had no meaning after she returned home. For the previous two months, her mission had been to wake up, bicycle and surpass her goal of raising $25,000 for the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports veterans like herself.

"I've got to do more for my brothers and sisters," the Navy veteran said she remembers thinking.

It didn't take her long to fill the void with a new journey.

In August 2021, Sefcik plans to cycle about 2,500 miles from the Northwest suburbs to Canada and east to New York City, where she'll spend the 20th anniversary of 9/11 at the World Trade Center memorial, before returning to finish the trip in downtown Chicago.

Sefcik announced plans for the trip this week because it will be self-funded and she wants to raise $50,000 for the Oscar Mike Foundation, which helps veterans who are amputees or have been paralyzed.

The foundation, named for military jargon for "on the move," offers an outlet for veterans to be involved in adaptive sports and experiences such as sky diving, flight lessons, UTV driving and kayaking, among others. The activities are hosted during a weeklong program at the foundation's 9,000-square-foot facility east of Rockford.

Sefcik saw the foundation's work while watching its wheelchair rugby team compete in Rockford. She recalled talking to the spouse of a player who had been having suicidal thoughts before joining the team and finding an activity to participate in.

"When I saw it, it instantly made me click to say this is the next one," Sefcik said. "These are the foundations that do the most for our military veterans and they don't go on without support from us."

To learn more about the journey or donate, visit www.crosscountrycycle4vets.com.

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