(NEW YORK) — Ryan Chalmers may have been born with spina bifida and used a wheelchair his entire life, but he’s not letting that slow him down.
The 23-year-old from Churchville, N.Y., is a world-class athlete who competed in the 2012 Paralympics Games in London, and on April 6, he’s embarking on a new cross-country adventure.
Chalmers will be pushing his racing chair across the United States, from Los Angeles to New York, in a 71-day journey to raise funds and awareness for Stay-Focused, a nonprofit organization that conducts dive programs for disabled teens and young adults.
“I’ve been doing wheelchair sports ever since I was 8 years old,” Chalmers told Sam Champion on GMA LIVE! Monday. “I got into it very young. I’ve pretty much been training for these types of moments my entire life.”
As Chalmers makes his trek, he will be pushing the equivalent of two to three marathons a day.
When asked what Chalmers would say to disabled persons who are discouraged by their lack of mobility, he replied, “Just stay focused and never give up. This whole journey that I’ll be doing is to show people that being disabled, you are still able to do anything that you put your mind to. You’re not letting it hold you back.”
Chalmers says wheelchair sports are exactly like regular sports.
“We put our heart and soul into it. This is what I’m passionate about. I love what I’m doing and I’m no different than anybody else,” he said.
After Chalmers completes his journey on June 15, he will be back on GMA LIVE! to give updates on how it went. And in the meantime, you can follow his trip on PushAcrossAmerica.org.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Natalie Crofts, KSL.com
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Brianna Owczarzak and Rachel McCrary, CNN
Jenni Marsh, CNN