Updated 08/30/2012 06:48 PM
Retired soldier beating the odds to help others
His story is that of a champion fighter. He keeps getting knocked down and Terry Barnes keeps getting back up. The recently retired Fort Drum soldier will not only fight through a serious war injury, but also a crippling disease to do something most couldn't imagine. As our Brian Dwyer reports, he's putting himself to the test to help those just like him.
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. -- After spending years in a warzone, you can't blame retired Staff Sergeant Terry Barnes for enjoying some of the peace life has to offer.
"Freedom," the former 1-71 Cav. Mechanic said with a smile. "It's when you're on the road and going, you feel like you have nothing but freedom. You have time to think and take in the fresh air."
His bicycle is his outlet. A love he almost lost a few years ago. While serving in Iraq, his unit was attacked. Barnes suffered a serious back injury.
It's a love he's facing the loss of again. Struggling to control the left side of his body, he saw a doctor last year. It was multiple sclerosis.
But Barnes will not give up. He's still on the bike, still enjoying that peace.
"By being on a bike, I don't feel it," Barnes said of the multiple sclerosis. "I don't even feel it. When I get off it, I have a little stumble, that kind of thing, but as long as I'm on my bike, I feel great."
Barnes is well aware not everyone wins those battles. So he's bringing that peace to them, embarking on a journey most healthy people couldn't do. Starting Saturday morning, Barnes will ride from the gates of Fort Drum to Camp Shelby, Mississippi to surprise a fellow wounded warrior, who he barely knows, and give him that hope.
"What I'm going to do is on this bike ride, is try to raise enough funds to take a lot of his problems off the table for him so he doesn't have to worry about his bills and stuff like that. All he'll have to worry about is healing," he said.
It's an idea that's sparked a whole foundation. Barnes has created the USA Warrior Creativity Foundation at liftupawarriornow.com. A way to yes, raise money, but also awareness, using creativity like a bike ride to help family and friends of wounded soldiers understand the need to do what that soldier may not, reach out for help.
"Family knows, just by being around them all the time," Barnes said of a soldier's injuries. "We're asking the family to call us and let us know or email us and let us know where these soldiers are and what they feel they're going through and that way we can kind of get with them and interview them and kind of figure out if we can help them in some way. "
Starting from just outside the gates of Fort Drum, the trip to Mississippi is about 1,350 miles. Barnes hopes to do it in about 20 days.
"Once you become a warrior, you're always a warrior," Barnes said. "Nothing can stop you. I'm not about to let M.S. stop me."