Roll with Me, California to New York City

It has been seven weeks and 1,600 miles since Gabriel Cordell last saw his home in California.

In that time he has logged hundreds of hours of wear and tear on his two wheelchairs as he journeys across the interstates and highways of the United States.

Gabriel is not an athlete. He’s never competed in a Paralympic event or pushed in a marathon. In fact, his path since his spinal-cord injury has been anything but promising. Feelings of self pity, isolation, and addiction was a way of life for the 42-year-old California resident.

But that all changed nine months ago when he decided to fulfill a self promise to accomplish something remarkable with his life that positively impacts people across the world by age 45.

Cordell was reborn into humanity and with support from family and friends, he slowly began to piece his life back into a meaningful existence. He left his addictions behind, discarded his destructive vices, and set off on a path to regain control of his life.

Cordell credits much of his success to his neighborhood YMCA for helping make much of his journey possible. “The biggest factor that helped me on the road to recovery was the staff and guests of the YMCA,” says Cordell. “They’ve helped keep me motivated, have never judged my past life or the fact I’m in a wheelchair. It’s been my safe haven.”


But this is not a story about a man in a wheelchair, but a tale of the unstoppable human spirit. “I’ve been clean for nine months,” says Cordell. “Staying sober is far more difficult than being in a wheelchair.”

On April 1, Cordell and his Roll with Me support team set off on an epic journey that will take him on a cross-country trek from California to New York with nothing more then his everyday wheelchair.

Cordell hopes to make the more than 3,000 mile trip in 75 days, stopping along the way at local YMCA facilities to generate disability awareness and inspire communities to come together in celebration of the human spirit. “I hope to reach people from all walks of life and inspire people with disabilities and those without,” says Cordell.

“We get a lot of stares from puzzled motorists clearly thinking, Why is a guy in a wheelchair rolling along the highway? But we’ve met a lot of friendly people offering to help out somehow or donate money for our cause.”

To celebrate the midway point of his endeavor, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino officials provided Cordell and the documentary crew hotel rooms to stay each night as he rolls through the area. Each day, Cordell travels as much as possible then either sleeps in his RV or stays in a hotel when rooms are provided.
On Friday, Cordell was surprised to find out Mobility Plus was meeting with him to make some much-needed fixes to his primary and backup wheelchairs.

“I had no idea they were going to do this,” said Cordell, as he tried to contain his smile. “My tires are worn down, the castors are almost shot, the seat back has broken down. This is great. Between this and the hotel rooms Hard Rock has provided for the crew and me, this is incredible.”


In total, Mobility Plus officials contributed more than $500 in parts and the time to replace them. They also provided spare parts and have agreed to ship him more tires farther down the road.

Cordell’s journey began on March 30, when he departed the Santa Monica Pier. The destination is his hometown of West Hempstead, N.Y.
Throughout his journey Cordell has been accompanied by a documentary film crew, headed by Independent Spirit Award Nominee filmmaker Lisa France.
Cordell and the “Roll With Me” team hope his endeavor will bring wheelchair awareness to the public, while also serving to inspire people of all abilities to realize that no person need be constrained by their past or by their physical circumstances.

“We are really happy to support Gabriel and his cause,” said Shawn Slaton, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, which oversees both Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa and Mobility Plus. “He is on an amazing journey and deserves all the support he can get. As an Oklahoman, I appreciate his concern and desire to help the tornado victims.”

Cordell has been averaging roughly 30 miles a day through the southwestern deserts before entering the plains and hills of Oklahoma. On Monday, he completed his daily ride in the Oklahoma City area in time to seek shelter before the devastating storm hit Moore.

After seeing the destruction of the numerous tornadoes across the central part of the state, the 42-year-old paraplegic felt obligated to take time away from his personal trip to assist a family in Carney by clearing debris at what was once their home before a tornado destroyed it.

“A family member of theirs met me in a park as I was traveling and told me their story,” Cordell said. “After seeing everything that had happened in Moore, I really wanted to help someone, so I asked if the crew and I could go help however possible.”

The time spent clearing debris created a setback in his daily mile log, but Cordell said that experience has been the most impactful moment of his endeavor.

“To be able to help others on this journey means so much to me,” Cordell said. “My goal by doing this was to positively impact one person. The great thing is I’ve already done more than that just by changing the lives of eight people – the crew and me – and we’re only halfway.

“God willing, I’m going to finish this.”

For more information, including journey updates and how to contribute, visit
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