William Galloway’s cross-country bicycle trips began about two years ago when he found himself struggling to get by, “mad at the system” and desiring more help for his brain injury. At age 56, in October of 2017, he left his home state of New Jersey and started peddling — biking coast to coast five times — living the life of a nomad and telling his story along the way.
Galloway recently found himself in Centralia after making his way down from Bellevue, the location of an Amen Clinic location, a clinic that focuses on brain health, where he said he is hoping to get some help.
“It takes time to get help through the Amen Clinic. They are willing to accept me. I’m waiting for an opening to get into the hyperbaric chamber. It’s a big tank and they put pressure on your body to get the blood flowing to the brain. You have to go to 20 to 30 sessions to see any kind of results. I hope it will help with my dizziness and concentration,” Galloway said.
Fifteen years ago, Galloway was hit by a drunk driver which resulted in a traumatic brain injury that he says makes concentration difficult and causes seizures, making it difficult to keep a job. Before the accident, Galloway said he was a truck driver but can no longer pass the physical.
“I ended up in assisted living for seven years after nine months in the hospital so I wanted to get my life back and work and not rely on $36 worth of food stamps,” Galloway said.
He said he didn’t like how he felt or acted while taking the medications that the doctors had him on and wanted to find other ways to help alleviate the symptoms of this brain injury.
“I didn’t want to just sit in a room in front of the TV for the rest of my life. I want to get help and I just want to get my story out,” Galloway said.
He said that he tried getting work through a temp agency but he would get headaches on the job and his supervisors wouldn’t be understanding of his brain injury. He wasn’t able to keep a job and became frustrated.
“I just keep going because I don’t want to stay in a community and have people see me on the streets every day because I’m sitting around waiting on the system,” Galloway said.
Over the course of the past two years, Galloway biked through Colorado snow, Californian deserts, Nebraskan cornfields, and Washington rain but he said that the best part about living the way he does is the people and the kindness of strangers that he experiences along the way. He said it takes him about three months to get from one side of the country to the other depending on how many stops he makes.
Life on the road isn’t always safe, Galloway recounted times he was threatened, harassed, stolen from, had garbage thrown at him, been run off the road and is often misunderstood and treated like a criminal or drug addict, but he doesn’t let those experiences deter him from peddling on.
Galloway went through six years of therapy after his brain injury and had to relearn how to talk. He says he knows he still needs help but has trouble getting it. He has trouble remembering things that occurred before his accident and becomes frustrated. He has been all over the country and in each state, he asks about organizations or programs that could help him — the Amen Clinic being his most recent possibility for help.
“I’ve been in a restaurant and a guy puts his hand on my shoulder and says ‘hey don’t stop what you’re doing. I got your meal. My wife had a brain injury and I had to learn a lot to understand what she goes through every day,’” Galloway recalled. “There are people who know how hard it is to get the help I need. It puts stress on me and it gets me to the point where I just want to give up. There’s a lack of hope. I’m not trying to put pity on myself — I’ve put out the effort.”
Galloway is on his second bike, after wearing out the first one, and has a small cart of supplies that he pulls behind it, flags and lights on the bike for safety, and speakers strapped to the bike to play music while he peddles — mostly classic rock — AC/DC is his favorite band. His second bike was donated to him by a bicycle company in Orlando called Catrike.
The story of his Forest Gump-style journey has been picked up by news outlets in various cities across the county and thanks to the power of social media, his story has spread. He has had people who have read about him online approach him to offer him food or give him money, which helps keep him going. Galloway said he usually finds a place to sleep that is about 15 to 20 miles outside whichever city he is near at the time.
“I don’t want to give up but sometimes it’s the hardest part. I can only go so far and to go five times across America I’m going to start slowing down,” Galloway said.
Galloway hopes that by getting his story out it will raise awareness for those who suffer from brain injuries and make it easier for him to get help. He has recently set up a GoFundMe to help him with food, his cell phone bill and short-term housing at https://www.gofundme.com/f/1unkavga40.