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North Tonawanda man rides his wheelchair 422 miles

Posted at 12:03 AM, Jun 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-23 00:03:40-04

Josh Geartz is finishing up the ride of a lifetime. His journey began in Indiana, weeks ago.  His destination is Buffalo. A case of spinal stenosis means most of the North Tonawanda veteran's activities are done in his wheel chair.
 
The chair keeps him moving along his trek, but its music that keeps him grooving. 

His 422 mile long ride is for the organization called Songwriting with Soldiers. It's the veteran support group he joined during the darkest time of his life. 

I attempted suicide and was getting ready to do it again, said Geartz.

His wingman, Roger Strade, a fellow attendee of Songwriting with Soldiers, rides behind Geartz in a van for support. He believes neither Geartz nor him would be alive without Songwriting with Soldiers.

As soon as I found we were doing it for them. I couldn't not do it, said Strade. They've saved more lives than I'm sure they know.

The ride itself is called 422 for 22. It references the estimated number of veterans who commit suicide every day. 

What I'm going through out here is minor compared to what I went through earlier and what so many are going through now. We've had, in the last six months, four veteran suicides just in Buffalo alone, said Geartz who was nearly a part of that statistic. 

There is hope. There are things out there. There are people out there who care and you are not alone as much you might feel. You're not, said Geartz.

For Josh Geartz, it's the ride of a lifetime. He hopes this ride inspires just one veteran to reach out for help.

 

On Sunday, hes ending his trip at the Sportsmen Tavern. A concert will start at 5. Proceeds will go to Songwriting with Soldiers.