Life is filled with emotions, experiences and events. From the very moment our heads leave the pillow we set out on an exciting journey filled with brand new encounters and life experiences. Our lives in many ways are shaped by events. The event creates the experience — the experience triggers the emotion. So what happens when you’re on your typical daily quest and a completely unexpected event shows up and rattles your walls?
Ricky Raley was the lead gun truck driver on a routine convoy security mission in Iraq. Ricky was a young athletic solider with a passion for sport and competition. He had trained intensely in preparation for this combat tour and was more than willing to step up and defend our country. As the lead truck driver in a convoy your vehicle is at a much greater risk than all others. In many ways you are exposed to the greatest amount of danger and somewhat act as a protector of the lives of each and every soldier behind you. Needless to say Raley was chock full of courage, adventure and bravery.
The tires on his gun truck rolled through the Iraqi landscape just like it had in the days prior. But this trip was about to become a little bit different — BOOM — His truck was hit by a massive IED explosion. Anyone that wears the uniform knows the dangers of an IED explosion and the injuries that can result. Luckily, Raley only received minor injuries from the explosion and was able to return home safely from his combat tour with a Purple Heart.
Upon returning home he resumed living the life he had left behind to go fight for America. He had no idea that on April 17th his life was about to be altered by yet another unexpected event. While traveling in his vehicle state-side Raley got into a very serious car accident. This accident left him paralyzed. After learning news of the life changing diagnosis Ricky did what he always does, he took on the challenge. “I was hungry for information on what it was going to be like to be paralyzed so I did all kinds of research. In my research I quickly found adaptive sports. One of the first sports I found was murder ball (aka quad rugby). That was my kind of game — fast and full of contact. Then I found hand cycling, not as hard hitting but very effective in getting some of my freedom back. I had a friend introduce me to wheelchair basketball and I quickly fell in love with that sport. I’ve since done alpine skiing, nordic skiing, scuba diving, archery, air rifle, shot put, discus, javelin and swimming.”
All while Ricky was going through this life change there was a very similar story unfolding in the arid desert of Qatar.
Brian Galloway was living in Qatar with his family, working as an IT Manager with a small sport security firm, when he was injured in a motorcycle accident. Along with a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down, he also broke all of his ribs and his left shoulder. He spent a month in the hospital in Doha before evacuating to the US to do his rehab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. While he was in Chicago, he was introduced to adaptive cycling, wheelchair basketball and adaptive golf.
Once he completed his rehab and finished his work in Qatar, his family moved back to Indiana. Upon meeting people at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana Sports Program, he discovered sled hockey, adaptive snow & water skiing but he still didn’t find a sport he could really be passionate about.
In late 2014, Brian started researching wheelchair lacrosse. He had always enjoyed the sport when he was young but there was no lacrosse being played in the Midwest at the time. There were no wheelchair teams in Indianapolis but he did discover some teams playing the sport around the country. He started inquiring around with the adaptive sport community about the possibility of starting a wheelchair lacrosse team.
In May of 2015 he attended the Conquer Paralysis Now Foundation Gala in Carmel, Indiana,where he met Ricky Raley. It was a fast friendship. So many similarities including their internal drive and love for family and sports. Ricky informed Brian there was a wheelchair lacrosse clinic being held in Louisville so they attended together. Brian and Ricky formed Indy Adaptive Sports in October of 2015 and subsequently began Indy RIP Lacrosse. They already had a few players from the clinic in Louisville but decided they needed to hold their own clinic in Indianapolis so they could have their own local team.
“A local high school coach, John Doss, heard about our team and reached out to us. Coach Doss decided to present the idea of helping Indy RIP by building a pledge program within his team. The Brownsburg HS lacrosse team is now assisting Indy RIP Lacrosse. Then I stopped by the local lacrosse shop, Empire Lacrosse, and the owner, Chris Berju, offered his assistance. He put up posters at both his shops to raise awareness of the team and collect equipment donations”, said Galloway.
Brian & Ricky now have a clinic planned for May where they will be able to get a team together and start competing in tournaments. They are looking forward to helping other communities build programs so they can eventually have a league to be able to play on a more consistent and frequent basis.
“The lacrosse community has been amazing in their acceptance and support of us as athletes and lacrosse players, not just looking at us as adaptive athletes or wheelchair lacrosse players. We have even been approached by able bodied players that want to get into chairs like ours and play against us!”
I know I say it all the time but it still amazes me how cool the people in our lacrosse community really are. This sport is in many ways a universal language that threads us as humans all together. I’m so honored to have the opportunity to tell this amazing story of perseverance, courage and love for competition. I would like to personally thank Brian and Ricky for allowing me access into their lives and inspiring me in such a powerful way. You guys stand for everything that I love about athletics and community.
So I guess that answers the question I raised in my opening paragraph — what happens when a completely unexpected event shows up and rattles your walls? Brian and Ricky proved that you just dig deeper, try harder and get stronger.
Its called a life”time” because there’s a start and an end to it. The real trick is living aware of that fact and focusing your energy on filling up that time with meaningful moments that impact the world in a positive way. And if you do it just right — your life could live on forever.
Support the Indy Rip lacrosse team by helping them raise money for chairs and travel by visiting their go fund me page.