Leigh Rides a Hand Bike and is a Proud Member of Paralyzed Veterans Racing
As we get ready to celebrate Veteran’s Day, it’s important to honor those serving today and in years past, so we wanted to share one Marine’s story and say thank you to all those who serve. We also want to extend a special promo code to all Veterans to save $100 (use “Veterans” at Checkout).
Leigh enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1983 and was trained as a Russian Linguist. As a Corporal she was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and served as an Intelligence Officer and Foreign Area Officer until her retirement in 2006 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1996 while cleaning up Hurricane damage in NC, she sustained a Spinal Cord Injury leaving her partially paralyzed from the waist down. With aggressive therapy and fitness rehabilitation she was able to pass fitness standards and remained on active duty. Highlights of her 23 year career include: four command assignments (in Guam, Parris Island SC, Camp Lejeune NC, and Fort Meade MD), her duty as Director of the Special Support Activity, NSA at the onset of the War on Terrorism, her final assignment as Defense Representative and US Defense Attaché to Latvia, and four brief support deployments to the Middle East (Kuwait and Iraq).
Upon retirement, Leigh’s injury was rated as 100 percent service-connected, permanent, with loss of use of one foot. She began pedaling a hand bike in 2015 and is a proud member of Paralyzed Veterans Racing. She has placed in a number of races with best successes so far finishing 1st place in 2015 Army Ten Miler, 3rd place in 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, and medaling at both 2016 Paracycling Nationals and 2016 National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Due to injury, surgeries, Leigh had not raced since mid-2016. She focused on rehabbing her shoulder with a SciFit in a physical therapy clinic and then started using Excy at home as an upper body ergometer as she trained for a return to competition in mid-2018. She discovered Excy after reading about two-time Paralympic gold medalist Travis Gaertner who uses Excy as a portable hand bike.
Returning to Sport of Hand cycling!
Not only did Leigh return to the hand cycling sport she loved in mid-2018, she rocked it. In the Valor Games, she was the fastest female hand cyclist (3 men were faster). She continued to perform, but on August 22, while Adaptive Mountain Biking in CO, she had an impressive end-over-end downhill crash and fractured her right wrist and hand. That kept her off her handcycle for a full five weeks and significantly limited her road training for eight weeks. But she started back on Excy as a safe, controlled upper-body workout that she could do at home on September 13. She rode Excy every few days as her injury healed and confidence grew. Without proper on-road training (only 3 short on-road training rides, 11 Excy rides ranging from 30-105 minutes) she raced the Army Ten Miler in mid-October and was the second female handcycle finisher at 50:38). She then did the Marine Corps Marathon and was the 4th female handcycle finisher at 2:29:50. Neither of those are personal records, but she’s very pleased with the results coming off injury and with only 3 training rides on the road in 8 weeks. Excy again helped her train safely while healing from injury and supplanted her training excellently.
Not only are we thankful for Leigh’s service, we also are now privileged to be a cheerleader in doing everything we can to support her journey. Thank you to all those who serve.