You might see something unusual on the side of the road on Saturday if you live around Atlanta, GA. Bill Mueller will be riding a unicycle 100 miles in efforts to raise money to buy a new wheelchair van for his brother, Gary Mueller, a retired firefighter for over 20 years who was paralyzed from the chest down in March 2009 when he fell off the two-story back deck of his home. AMS Vans has contributed a $5,000 discount towards the price of the wheelchair van as our pledge to help Gary and his brother in their fundraising.
On Thursday, firefighters traveled from Cape Coral, Florida to Atlanta, GA in a classic 30 year old restored American LaFrance fire truck to raise awareness of the website supporting the cause: www.RideForGary.com
“There’s so much attention that I get when I’m riding it,” he said. “I thought this would be a great way to raise money.”
Bill was right. The website has so far generated $3,000 by allowing people to sponsor the unicycle ride by the mile, and the Cape Coral firefighters raised $3,000 on their own towards the effort. A car wash was thrown by supporters that raised $600, and a man donated a new scooter that will be sold online to raise more funds. T-shirts will also be available at the event for $20 to bring in extra funding.
“This is a guy that has been a friend to us for over 20 years, and we’re just looking to help him out and take care of him,” said Lt. Ken Retzer of the Cape Coral Fire Department. “He’s a fellow brother of the fire department.”
The Cape Coral firefighter group will also be following behind Gary in their restored firetruck as he rides his unicycle on Saturday from fire station to fire station to generate more interest for the event along the route. They are heading out at 7 am from a firestation in Gainesville, GA and will be making stops at fire stations through Hall, Gwinett, DeKalb, and Fulton counties.
“The intent is to buy the van, but the motivation is to help Gary regain his independence,” Retzer said. “This is just a shot in the arm to turn the page in his life. We have no plans on quitting before this goal is met.”
Since leaving the hospital, Gary Mueller’s wife, Mary Ann, has been taking care of him along with his brother. Gary is unable to remember what he was doing prior to his fall, but his family believes he may have been filling bird feeders.
“It was pretty serious,” Bill Mueller said of the accident.
He added that the fund-raiser has changed his brother’s disposition.
“It almost completely turned around his attitude,” Bill Mueller said. “His spirits are great.”
A pre-event party will be held at 8 p.m., Friday, at Engine 11, a restaurant and bar in Atlanta that once was a working firehouse. Following Bill Mueller’s ride Saturday, an after-event party will be held at Engine 11 beginning at 9 p.m.