DANVILLE — For the past three months, Gabriel Cordell has been traveling 30 miles a day, journeying from Burbank, California, to his native city of West Hempstead, New York.
His vehicle of choice isn’t a car, bicycle or anything involving electronics. It’s his hand-powered wheelchair.
Since starting on April 1, Cordell has traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, with plans to travel through New Jersey and New York before his trip is scheduled to end on July 8.
Six film crew members are following Cordell in an RV, to turn his journey into the documentary “Roll With Me.”
“I never let my condition ever dictate the way I live my life,” said Cordell, who became a paraplegic after a car accident in 1992. A woman ran a red light and slammed into Cordell’s Jeep, which threw him against a telephone pole, crushing part of his spinal cord.
“I’m still here, I’m alive,” said Cordell, who currently lives in Los Angeles and has spent the last 18 years working as a model and actor.
Cordell and his film crew rolled into Danville’s Dunkin Donuts on Tuesday, July 2, to rest and recuperate before the last leg of their journey.
While Cordell rests in the RV overnight, with the crew always near to help him in emergencies, he has only moved forward under the power of his own arms rolling his chair forward.
“I’ve rolled every inch of every mile from the Pacific Ocean to Danville,” said Cordell.
He’s traveled down any path or road he’s legally allowed. In Pennsylvania, this means he’s been able to travel along highways, though not interstates.
Once the crew got to Pennsylvania, “the weather went bonkers on us,” said Cordell. The crew probably got enough rain in the Keystone State to make up for the earlier, dryer parts of their trip, he added with a laugh.