OHIO VALLEY — It is not unusual for a person to stop in the Middleport Police Department asking to speak to an officer on duty, but the man who stopped by last Friday evening had an important message to share.
When Sgt. Shannon Smith responded to the call of a person wishing to speak with an officer he met William Galloway, a man in his late 50s who is currently on his ninth, 3,000-mile trek across the county via bicycle.
Galloway was stopping in Middleport for the night, having biked from Winfield, West Virginia, through Point Pleasant, West Virginia and into Gallipolis, Ohio, on Friday before ending up in Middleport.
He stopped at the police department to ask about spending the night in one of the parks in the village. Instead, Smith offered Galloway a bed in the village’s gymnasium for the night, as well as dinner and a conversation. It was there that Galloway shared his story with Ohio Valley Publishing.
Several years ago, Galloway was struck by a drunk driver while crossing the roadway in a crosswalk in New Jersey, where he lived at the time. During his recovery from the traumatic brain injury suffered in the incident, Galloway was placed in an assisted living facility and a group home. He explained that he wanted to have a normal life back and to have someone to advocate for him to lead a normal life.
Galloway added that he wanted to have his freedom and to receive treatment other than medication for the brain injury. He was referred to a clinic in Southern California for help. It was then he decided to bike, something he had always done prior to his injury.
From the clinic, Galloway continued biking in California until he came to Bishop, where he saw a sign for Worcester, Massachusetts, 3,000 miles and decided to bike the distance. Galloway has been in all 48 or the lower states in the United States.
Among his travels Galloway has had back surgery which delayed his trips for around five weeks.
On Jan. 23, 2019, Galloway got back on the bicycle and has not stopped since. He explained that not each trip is from the east coast to the west coast, but is a total of 3,000 miles. He has changed his routes some due to the pandemic, as well as some protests and other events in different cities. He averages 60 miles per day on a typical day.
No longer able to ride a two-wheel bike due to seizures, Galloway acquired a recumbent bike which he has ridden across the country since.
While the journey is about raising awareness for those with traumatic brain injuries and advocating for those individuals to be able to live a full and independent life, Galloway said he has seen some of the best and worst of people in the country.
He said that many times he encounters law enforcement officers who have been called regarding a person on a bicycle, particularly when he would ride at night with several lights on the bicycle and trailer. Some of those officers have helped him along the way to find safer routes, needed items or whatever help he may need.
Galloway has been taken in by individuals when he was in negative temperatures in Utah, even having a truck driver’s wife come to help after a call from her husband who passed Galloway in the cold conditions.
At other times people have been rude or threatened him with violence as he travels through an area. He spoke of churches in the south that had run him off from their shelter houses or had called law enforcement on him for trespassing.
Galloway said he means no harm to people, and is simply trekking across the country to raise awareness.
“With brain injuries people don’t see you. You are good enough for disability, but not good enough to help. You can’t give up,” said Galloway.
Galloway said many people with brain injuries are referred from clinic to clinic or state to state in order to get help and become caught up in the system.
He encouraged people to never give up.
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time,” reads a quote by Thomas Edison which is on a sign on Galloway’s bicycle trailer.
Galloway continued his journey on Saturday, traveling along Route 33 toward Athens despite the cooler and damp weather conditions. This journey will end somewhere in Pennsylvania.
You can keep up with Galloway’s travels via his Facebook page.
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