• 61°

Lee Cooper back on his bike to raise money for ALS

Ready to ride

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Lee Cooper is ready to get back on the road next week, starting a bike ride to benefit research and awareness for Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. There is no cure — yet.

Cooper has a traumatic brain injury. He had brain cancer at 3, then was involved in a car crash in 1993 that killed his pregnant wife. The likely drunken driver was never found. And a couple of years ago, he was on one of his charity bike rides when a car clipped him, essentially shattering his ankle. That driver, too, never stopped.

Now with a metal brace and his usual determination, Cooper wants to get back on two wheels, his only form of transportation, and help others.

He’s especially proud of what he’s doing now. He will soon finish his associate of applied science degree in business software at Bluegrass Community & Technical College in Lexington, Kentucky.

Despite his brain injury and extensive nerve damage, he managed to get his GED and an associate of arts degree. He has a class ring with both accomplishments noted on either side.

He graduated with Phi Theta Kappa honors. PTK is the world’s largest honor society for two-year college students.

Cooper, who is also legally blind and dyslexic, will be riding alon, with just a backpack, a tent and a bag of medications.

Cooper suffers from allergies and asthma but has found that herbal supplements work better than any medication.

He has contacts along the route, but it’s going to be a long ride. He got a backup battery for his cellphone so he won’t worry so much about keeping it charged. He usually camps out and stops only for thunderstorms.

He’s starting in Salisbury, his former home, on Tuesday, and will stop in Statesville, where he once lived and still has friends. Then it’s on to Shelby; Boiling Springs; Macon, Georgia; Talladega, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; Missouri; Illinois; Indiana; and back home to Richmond, Kentucky.

His goal, after the ride and he finishes his degree, is to move back to North Carolina and find a good job.

Cooper is a fighter, and that’s good, because doctors keep finding new problems. He recently learned he has a hematoma behind his right eye that will have to be addressed. He’ll be 43 in July.

His form of dyslexia is that he reads upside down, so he turns his phone or any printed material upside down to read it clearly. He even flips keyboards over so he can see them better.

Cooper likes to talk and tell people his story. The attendants on a Delta flight saw a flier for his ride and gave him wings for good luck. On the next flight, the attendants announced his ride over the intercom.

He is riding for the Kentucky Chapter of the ALS Association, with offices in Louisville.

To make a donation, go to http://webky.alsa.org/goto/LeeCoopersALSRide. Designate it for Lee Cooper’s Ride.

Look for Lee riding around in a black helmet with a bright yellow vest over his backpack before he starts his trek.

Comments

Local

Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021

News

$9M settlement for two men wrongfully sent to death row

Nation/World

China lands spacecraft on Mars in latest advance for its space program

Business

Gas crunch hits Washington; Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in Bitcoin ransom

Coronavirus

State mostly returns to normal operations after 15 months of lockdowns, restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Man accused of stealing car, crashing it

Crime

Man faces new charge of attempted murder for father’s shooting

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits

Crime

Barnes gets new punishment of two life sentences in Tutterow couple’s 1992 murder

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday