SDSU student and Navy veteran Joe Frank cycled across the United States to support injured veterans.
Joe Frank (standing, far right) with some of his collegues on the cross-country bike ride.
As part of a family tradition, Joe Frank left his hometown of Kingston, Penn. to join the U.S. Navy.
Before long, he was accepted into and began training with the elite Navy Seals program in Coronado, Calif.
On a routine trip home from the dry cleaners in 2007, his training — and nearly his life — came to an end when he was hit head-on by an unlicensed DUI driver on Interstate 5. Frank was seriously injured and nearly lost his right leg.
After months of surgery and rehabilitation, he was left with a number of permanent injuries that forced him to leave the Navy for good. Frank re-evaluated his goals and decided to pursue a degree in finance at San Diego State in 2011. At the same time, he took up the sport of cycling.
“I wasn’t a cyclist before my accident, but I became a cyclist in the summer of 2011 while at a training camp hosted by Navy Safe Harbor, a non-profit benefiting injured or ill Navy veterans,” Frank said.“Once I got the feel for real cycling, I knew it was something I would enjoy."
Since then, Frank has completed five 200-mile bicycle treks (called “double centuries”) and has started doing triathlons as well.
However, Frank completed his biggest challenge after his junior year at SDSU. On May 28, 2012, he and 13 other wounded veterans dipped the rear wheel of their bikes into the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco. From there, they rode all the way to Virginia Beach, Va. where they dipped their front tires into the Atlantic Ocean two months later.
This was part of the Sea to Shining Sea cross-country bike ride which brings attention to wounded veterans by offering a “dramatic example that disabled Americans can lead productive lives and accomplish remarkable athletic feats,” according to the event’s website. Frank and his group took on 3,698 miles, nearly 19,000 feet of elevation gain and 14 states to complete their goal.
The hazards of the feat were not lost on Frank. “The group’s injuries varied from blindness, to post-traumatic stress disorder to amputation to cancer and everything in between,” he said. “We were 14 injured veterans biking across America to provide a moving message to bring awareness and motivation to other injured veterans and to the good American people.”
Frank is slated to graduate with his finance degree in May 2013.