Saul Raisin, a former American professional cyclist who was involved in an accident that resulted in a devastating head injury five years ago, is advocating for those with similar injuries through the Raisin Hope Foundation’s annual charity bike ride held on 3 September in Dalton, Georgia.
The Raisin Hope Ride will cover 100km and all proceeds will benefit patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). “My accident has given me a new perception of my life and goals,” Raisin told BikeRadar. “We are also truly grateful for my second chance in life and dream to give back and help others not as fortunate as us.”
Raisin Hope Ride offers four distances at 100-, 64-, 24- and 10km and is suitable for cyclists of all ability. The fundraiser event will host a maximum of 500 cyclists and the fee to enter is $35. Participants of the ride along with local companies are encouraged to raise funds for patients with TBI.
Proceeds will benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Wounded Warrior Project, Intrepid Fallen Heros Fund, Craig Hospital, Shepherd Center, Camp Twin Lakes and Siskin Hospital. “The ride covers come of the most beautiful country roads in the world,” Raisin said. “The money is raised through fund raising from local companies and word of mouth. Every year we have a big raffle at the ride to raise money for the foundation. The majority of the money is raised from rider's registration.”
In April of 2006, at the age of 24, Raisin’s professional cycling career was cut short by a traumatic head injury that caused a large hematoma on his brain along with temporary paralysis and warranted doctors to place him in an induced coma. The injury was the result of a high-speed crash at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France while racing for Credit Agricole.
Raisin, along with close family members, launched the Raisin Hope Foundation the following year. He has since made remarkable improvements to his health after nearly five years of extensive rehabilitation. “For about four years I always questioned why me? Why did this happen to me?” Raisin said. “Last year I was at an Atlanta Braves game with some friends and a gentleman serving drinks saw me and dropped everything and ran towards me with tears in his eyes telling me that I was his hero. He gave me a big hug and told me that my story inspired him to overcome his brain injury and fight harder. This man is one of the veterans I work with when I volunteer at the Atlanta Veterans Hospital.”
“It was at that moment I quit thinking why me, and now say yes me!” he said. “My accident has given me the possibility to give back and help others in a way I never dreamed possible. I am deeply honored to be able to work with our wounded veterans and be able to give them support. My goal is no longer to win the Tour de France but give back the hope to people that have lost it.”
The Raisin Hope Foundation raised more than $200,000 and Raisin’s first book entitled Tour de Life: From Coma to Competition raised $150,000. He is currently attending the Physical Therapy Program at Dalton State College.