Amber McGee has intermittent partial paralysis of the sciatic nerve due to an accident that occurred during her service in the U.S. Army. As someone who enjoys being active, the injury McGee sustained does not allow her to run since it causes back pain or ride a bike because sitting causes her legs to go numb. But McGee has found that the elliptical is the one piece of cardio equipment that doesn’t cause back or leg pain, which made her wonder if there was a bicycle version of it that would allow her to get outside.
McGee found what she was looking for at a local bicycle shop in her hometown of Burlington, Iowa – an elliptical strider. She tested it out, had no back or leg issues, and thought “this is exactly what I was looking for. I want to be more active. I want to have a better quality of life.”
Only drawback was the cost. So McGee searched online for assistance in obtaining an elliptical strider and came across The American Legion Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) program. She applied for an OCW grant and now has her own elliptical strider.
“Every time I see it I get a huge smile on my face. It makes me so happy,” said McGee, an Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. “It’s really cool, and it gives me so much cardio. My dogs (who run alongside her on the elliptical strider) love it too. With this bike I can actually go explore which is so nice.”
Prior to applying for an OCW grant, McGee was familiar with the support The American Legion provides to veterans. An American Legion service officer helped her “fight the battle to get my (VA service-connected) disability bumped to (100 percent) disability,” McGee said. “Which was a fight I had no idea how to do so they were with me the whole way. That was amazing to me.”
As winter conditions have descended upon Iowa, McGee’s time outside with the elliptical strider isn’t always an option but the OCW grant also provided an indoor trainer. Something McGee is very appreciative of.
“Having this bike is changing my life,” she said.
For more information about The American Legion Operation Comfort Warriors program, and how to apply for a grant, please visit legion.org/operationcomfortwarriors.