GIG HARBOR Bob Mortimer walked into a downed power line after a late night car crash at the age of 21. His injuries resulted in the amputation of one arm and both legs.
A few years after the accident, Bob Mortimer met Darla, who invited him to a church service where he became a Christian. The couple married in 1981 and founded Bob Mortimer Motivational Ministries to spread a message of "hope and courage throughout the world."
This summer, Bob Mortimer will propel his handcycle with one arm as he and his family embark on the 3,900-mile Hope and Courage Journey Across America. Bob, Darla, and their three childrenNicole (19), Grant (16) and Chanel (10)will bike from Gig Harbor on May 17 to the Statue of Liberty in New York City, arriving on Sept. 11.
The family team of cyclists will average 40 miles per day, and plan to stop in cities and towns along the route to host motivational rallies.
"HCJAA is a ride with a purpose, and we all believe in the purpose," Bob Mortimer said. "At our lowest points we can lean on our hope in Christ and he will renew our strength. HCJAA will differ from other rides because we will devote part of our schedule to speaking to people about hope."
Based on Isaiah 40:31, Bob Mortimer's message moves from hope to courage, using his own life experience to tell how his faith in God allows him to live as a victor, not a victim.
"Hope needs courage," he said. "Courage to get up and face the day. Courage to take that hope and move forward and make a difference in your life and others. Hope comes from Christ. Courage comes from you."
During the trip, the Mortimers and their support staffcomprised of Bob Mortimer's sister and her husbandwill stay in an RV equipped with wheelchair access and living quarters for seven people. In addition to the rallies, local church and community organizations can arrange to join the HCJAA for a segment of the ride.
"I am excited we can take two activities we lovesharing Jesus and riding bikesand combine them into one journey," Darla Mortimer said.
Nicole Mortimer, a nursing major at Northwest University and the couple's oldest daughter, will serve as the team's medical consultant.
"I cannot wait to experience America in this unique way," she said. "Pedal by pedal, mile by mile. I also think the heightened amount of family time and the opportunities to see God work through us will be invaluable."
Ten-year-old Chanel Mortimer, the group's "ambassador of happy," is looking forward to the trip's evangelistic opportunities.
"I am excited to tell people about Jesus all along the way, because the people I tell will tell others and the world will be a better place," she said. "I will miss my friends back home but will meet new ones along the way."
"My guitar, my bike and living in an RV … what a way to spend a summer," Grant Mortimer said. "I hope our message will have a ripple effect throughout America."
The City of Gig Harbor will host a send-off party for the Hope and Courage Journey Across America at City Hall on May 17. The event begins at 10 a.m. and will feature a free Pancake Feed courtesy of Gig Harbor Kiwanis, worship music led by a local team, and short speeches by local dignitaries.
The HCJAA team will speak briefly before starting their ride at noon. Local supporters are invited to ride along as the team crosses the Narrows Bridge.
On May 18, the HCJAA team will visit Riverview Community Church in Kent. After the service, the team will begin their ride toward Issaquah.
"Losses in life are inevitable but that does not mean we are hopeless. With hope and courage, [people] can face the road ahead, no matter what mountain is in front of them," Bob Mortimer said. "To a new generation of wounded soldiers, we want them to be inspired to let the wounds heal and go into the future with confidence. I hope they see us and say, 'If that man can do that with just one arm, I can do anything.' And I ride with my family to show that the best things in my life came after I lost my limbs."
To learn more about the Hope and Courage Journey Across America, visit www.hcjourney.org.