I usually refrain from covering stories about people who walk or swim or bike great distances for a cause.
Nothing against the causes or the people. It's just my preference to report on things that happen to all of us — the stuff of everyday life.
Mark Stephan, the subject of this my story, was a marathoner, a two-time Iron Man competitor and a successful businessman. Then everything changed about five years. A bicycle accident turned the "perpetual motion" athlete into a bed-ridden quadriplegic.
No more walking. No more biking.
Or so they thought.
Years of rehab coupled with an incredible will to succeed put Mark back on his feet and determined to fulfill an earlier "able-bodied" dream of riding a bicycle across the country.
And I wanted to follow him.
Well, times have changed.Video: Quadriplegic beats the odds, goes on bike trip (on this page)
Political divisiveness makes it seem as if our country has lost its collective will to battle through tough circumstances.
I have spent more than three decades in and among the people. If you throw out the political rhetoric and cut the cord to the special interest groups who profit from playing one side against the other, we are all pretty much on the same page.
What happened to Mark Stephan could have happened to any of us.
Could we have responded in the same fashion? Do we have it within us to tough it out?
Think about that as you watch his story.
More stories from Mike Leonard:
Mike Leonard: How a simple question revealed a remarkable story
Mike Leonard: Why I shop where everybody knows my name
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints