Wheelchair-Bound Athlete Crossing America For Fitness Message - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/6/04-Longview

Wheelchair-Bound Athlete Crossing America For Fitness Message

One mile at a time, a man paralyzed from the waist down is spreading his message of physical fitness. Now in the best shape of his life, Kevin Saunders is riding his wheelchair across the country telling all he can to take care of themselves, and never give up.

"That's got to be the greatest feeling is that people will come up and say they want to change," he says.

Kevin Saunders journey of life has been that of constant change. From a normal life to a wheel chair. From ordinary man to ambassador for healthy living.

"If I can do it paralyzed from the chest down, [others] can get fit," he says.

Kevin was a federal grain inspector working at a south Texas grain elevator in 1981. A huge explosion threw him a hundred yards and severed his spinal cord.

"They told me I was going to be paralyzed from the chest down and never walk again. I wanted to give up. I didn't want to go on."

But he did. Through a fitness regimen he became a paralympian, winning bronze medals in the pentathlon. But with Americans becoming more and more overweight, Kevin says he wanted to do something about it.

"It's hard enough to exercise, eat right, and get enough rest without sorting through all the mixed messages and marketing hype, he says."

Kevin's normal breakfast: egg white and oatmeal. It's power food, without any oils. He keeps well hydrated for his monumental challenge. He's started near Detroit at the Canadian border, and he's headed to Laredo. Then he'll start a tour of every state in the union.

"It's going to take me to the end of 2005 to go through all 50 states."

Like Friday in Longview and Tyler, he wants to spread the message to everyone.

"If we're going to win the war on obesity, it's going to be done in Longview, and Tyler, where people live, work and play."

But he says if one person takes charge of their health by his charge border-to-border, it's worth it all.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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