Rex Covington, also known as Lone Star Rider, found his way to Tyler on Wednesday as he rides his motorcycle around the U.S., seeking to raise $90,000 to help fund research by the American Diabetes Association to find a cure for diabetes.
Covington set the $90,000 goal and was inspired by a dream to begin his journey by what happened to his son, Chris, who was diagnosed with diabetes type 1 in 2003.
Three years ago, it is believed, the diabetes caused his son, 37, to black out while driving to work and to drive off a bridge near Grapeland. He died in a fiery car crash.
The tragedy weighed heavily on Covington’s mind and he wondered if could have done something to prevent the accident. But he concluded there really was nothing.
In January 2018, Covington dreamed that he raised $90,000 for diabetes research while riding his motorcycle all over the country.
“I thought this was a great idea, so I’m pursuing it,” he said.
Partnering with the American Diabetes Association, he started his ride in Fort Worth on June 21, 2018.
Since then, Covington, 61, a semi-retired firefighter/paramedic for the Arlington Fire Department, has ridden approximately 29,000 miles.
There was a big celebration and party in Arlington on the one-year anniversary of Covington starting his ride.
But Covington learned that fundraising is difficult. “I’ve only raised a little under $8,000 so far,” he said on the Tyler square Wednesday during a two-day stop in the city.
Covington is not giving up on reaching his goal. Although he did not reach it within a year as he had hoped, Covington said, “I decided I was going to continue (on his motorcycle ride) until I meet that $90,000 goal.”
As Covington travels around, he hands out a card with his story written on it.
He also speaks to different groups, such as civic clubs, and he goes to festivals, events and other places to talk to people about diabetes and the need for funding for research for a cure.
Donations can made be made by going to RidingForA Cure.com.
“If people feel like in their hearts they want to donate, it doesn’t matter what the size of the donation is,” Covington said. “It could be a dollar or whatever they want to give.”
All donations go the American Diabetes Association, he said.
Most of the time, people Covington meets on his trips tell him they know somebody who has diabetes or that they have a family member with the disease or they say they have it. They encourage him to keep on his trip to raise money for a diabetes cure.
“It’s a terrible disease,” Covington said. “Over 30 million Americans have this disease and there are tons of people that are pre-diabetic and don’t know it. A cure would be awesome.”
Covington is getting ready to do a ride around Texas. He plans to start near Denton, head east and then go south and all the way around the state. Covington anticipates, “That’s going to take me about a month to do.”
Afterward, Covington intends to head to the northwest. He has already been to the southern west coast to San Francisco and up the east coast as far north as the Acadia National Park in Main.
Most nights, Covington sleeps in a trailer that he pulls with his motorcycle. He likes to spend the night in national parks, truck stops and other places. He likes truck stops because there he can go in for a shower. Four or five nights a month he gets a motel or hotel room.
The American Diabetes Association sometimes suggests places for Covington to go to on his travels to help raise money for diabetes research. He pays his expenses for his trip out of his own pocket.
Covington takes video on his motorcycle ride and posts it on YouTube. He does some sightseeing as well as fundraising.
“It’s a hard trip, but I am enjoying it,” he said. “I try to make it as fun as possible.”