UPDATE: 81-year-old Cleveland cyclist finishes 3,000 mile ride - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: 81-year-old Cleveland cyclist finishes 3,000 mile ride

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UPDATE: A Cleveland man just finished a 3,000 mile bicycle ride from San Diego California to St. Augustine Florida. 

81-year-old Tom Cawood finished the ride in just 43 days and that's averaging at least 70 miles a day. He did it all to raise awareness and support for Disabled American Veterans. 

Tom Cawood learned how to ride a bike at age 14, he used to deliver newspapers for the Times Free Press. He was told many years ago, after a tragic accident that he would never ride a bicycle again. He didn't let that slow him down and he didn't take "no" for an answer. 
Cawood has climbed many mountains over the years,  he broke his back and survived Tuberculosis as a child. Doctors said he would never live to see his 21st birthday. 

Against all odds he survived a motorcycle crash at age 74, learned how to walk and ride a bike again, 
then he beat Cancer 2-years-ago. 

"Life is like water skiing... if you slow down, you go down and I do not want to go down," said Tom Cawood, Pedaling for a Purpose.  

The Cleveland YMCA honored Tom and his wife Pat, Monday. Together they finished a 3,000 mile journey from San Diego California to St. Augustine Florida. Tom biked the entire way, averaging about 15 miles per hour, 7-8 hours a day. 

"This has been on my bucket list for years... thinking about doing it and when I finally retired the wife and I thought about it and said if we're going to do it we might as well get with it," said Cawood. 

The Army veteran took the challenge to raise  awareness and support for Disabled American Veterans , YMCA's "Live Strong" program  and the North American Mission Board.

"I think the most difficult part of it was the mental aspects of it," said Cawood. 

A truck nearly ran him off the road at one point, his bike broke off the vehicle's passenger side mirror. 

He wasn't hurt but Tom says the accident and journey was like many other unexpected obstacles in life ...to get through you have to keep moving forward, keep pedaling and keep living. 
"Never think about age when it comes to adventure, life or doing what you want to do," said Cawood. "Get up and go do it ...you can't get your last breath back, the only thing you can think about is the next one, next hour and next day... live it."

The Cawoods are now  planning a long vacation overseas. While the ride is over, their mission is not. The Cawoods are still raising money and awareness for disabled American veterans and the live strong program at the YMCA.
They ask that you make donations to any one of these three organizations:

PREVIOUS STORY: A Cleveland man is quite the cyclist and he has to be for this next journey. 81-year-old Tom Cawood is preparing to pedal for a purpose, he's biking 3,265 miles from San Diego California to St. Augustine Florida over the next 2 months. 
By car, it's a 2,377.4 mile trip. Per Google, if you were to drive nonstop - it would take you 34 hours. Cycling -- would take more than 200 hours.

Tom Cawood first learned how to ride a bike at age 14, he used to deliver newspapers for the Chattanooga Times. The Army vet recently retired from the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, where he worked as a reserve officer and chaplain.

Cawood tells Channel 3 that he hopes this bike ride can raise awareness but more importantly inspire others to live their life to the fullest, making a difference. 

"Life is like water skiing, if you slow down you go down," said Tom Cawood. 

His wife Pat Cawood will also make the journey, their four-year-old border collie named "Shana", has been training too. 

"In one conversation we had, its what if I can't make it', I said, 'if you cant make it, we will, so by God's grace we're doing it. We're dipping a rear wheel in the pacific and a front wheel in the Atlantic," said Pat Cawood. 

Together they're  pedaling for a purpose, raising awareness and support for Disabled American Veterans, YMCA's "Live Strong" program for cancer survivors and The North American Mission Board. 

"I want the world to realize how important our military is to us. We bleed red, white and blue. I've served, her father was a 29-year Navy man, we have a son still serving in Germany we have a grandson in the Army now," said Tom Cawood. "We lost our Marine son in 2008 and we have a granddaughter serving in the Navy. We understand the value of the sacrifice our service members make. This ride is to draw awareness to how important it is that we support our veterans, especially those that come home disabled as a result of their service. They sacrifice for us so I am riding to honor them." 

The plan is to average 60 miles a day and hopefully 4-year-old Shana can help at least some of the way.

"The first part is going to be most difficult. When we leave San Diego, you start climbing into the Sierras, once I get over that it's all down hill," said Cawood. 

This isn't his first mountain, Tom broke his back as a child and contracted tuberculosis in the hospital. Doctors said he'd never see his 21st birthday.

He survived a serious motorcycle crash at age 74 and had to learn how to walk and bike again. Two years ago, he lost a kidney but survived cancer. 

When we asked Tom about his secret in life, he said, "no matter what you never give up on life, you should live it to the fullest and as the Army says "Be All You Can Be.'"

The Cawoods leave Monday August 17. In addition to pedaling, Tom will be speaking about life after cancer at several YMCA events across the country. 

They ask that you make donations to any one of these three organizations:

You can contact the Cawoods by emailing: Cawoodtp@hotmail.com or calling: 423-476-8319. 

Follow their journey on Facebook.

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