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Grant Bergsma always had an affinity for those injured in the military, and over the summer he thought of riding across the country to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

All in all, 30-year-old Bergsma should clear more than $7,500 for Wounded Warriors after deducting for expenses in his California-to-Florida ride.

“I’ve known several men that have been injured as a result of their service to our country,” he said. “I just thought it was right to do something for those that have sacrificed so much for us all.”

In September Bergsma called his boss at The Snook Inn on Marco and inquired whether it might be OK to put off his return to the island until the first of December, instead of November. He said the Snook was accommodating so he started to plan the trip.

Bergsma shipped his bike off to San Diego and flew out to his jump-off point. People could follow his trip on Facebook and donate to the cause on GoFundMe.com.

The 3,000-mile trip from San Diego to Marco Island took Bergsma 33 days to complete and was filled with great memories for him. From being befriended on the road by complete strangers to being gently ordered off I-75 in Manatee County by sheriff’s deputies, the adventure was nothing but a positive experience for the weary traveler.

Bergsma has spent his winters here the last three years. When not here, he travels to festivals and fairs with a food vending truck in his home state of Michigan.

“I get the best of both worlds,” said Bergsma.

Bergsma comes from a large family that includes his mother and father, one brother, three sisters and 45 cousins that all hail from Michigan.

“When we do have the chance to get together it’s quite a gathering,” said Bergsma.

The drive to raise money for worthy causes on his bicycle began with Bergsma’s desire to help fight Lou Gehrig’s disease. A friend of his lost his long battle with it a few years ago and he wanted to do something to help others.

Like the popular character Forrest Gump who decided to go for a run across the country, Bergsma choose to jump on his bike and ride from his hometown in Grand Rapids, Mich., to Gainesville to raise money and awareness. His initial effort raised more than $4,000.

Want to help?

Those who wish can still donate by going to gofundme.com/grantsride to help increase the amount that will be made within the next couple of weeks to Wounded Warriors.

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