Teen Bikes Cross-Country While Going Blind

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Tuesday, Jul 27, 2010  |  Updated 10:25 AM PDT
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California Teen Sees U.S. Before Going Blind

Frigo Family Photo

James 'Bubba' Frigo bikes with his father on his cross-country adventure. Frigo suffers from retinitis pigmentosa and is going blind. He biked from San Diego to New York City.

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California Teen Sees U.S. Before Going Blind

After being diagnosed with an incurable degenerative eye disease, 18-year-old Menifee, CA resident James "Bubba" Frigo decided to bike from San Diego to New York City, so he could see the country before going blind. Watch "Bubba" try NYC pizza and get a tour of some iconic Manhattan sites.
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A race against time turned into the ride of his life.

After James “Bubba” Frigo began to lose his sight about two years ago because of a rare and incurable eye disease, the Southern California teen realized he might never see the Grand Canyon and U.S. Capitol up-close.

On a bike ride with his dad a couple months later, he came up with idea for his “big challenge,” a 40-day tour de America before he starts college in the fall. 

“I wanted to see certain places in the United States,” Frigo, 18, told NBC’s LXTV. “So I biked – all the way across.”

Last week, father and son wrapped up their remarkable cross-country bicycle trek from San Diego to New York’s Times Square.

In covering 3,500 miles across 13 states, the pair also raised more than $7,500 toward helping find a cure for blindness, which affects an estimated 10 million Americans.

“He’s an inspiration,” James Frigo Sr. said, speaking of Bubba’s accomplishments on CBS’s “Early Show.”

Two years ago, Frigo was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative eye disease that affects a much smaller sub-set of the blind, about 100,000 people in the U.S.

According to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, RP usually begins with night blindness and in adolescence and leaves the person legally blind by age 40 though the loss of peripheral vision. There is no known cure for the genetically-linked disease, but Frigo told CBS the foundation has given him "a lot of hope" there could be one within his lifetime.

“When I go to a movie, I go in early and come out late because I can’t see the floor,” Frigo explained to his local paper, the North County Times, before embarking on the trip. “And our cats don’t like me very much; I keep stepping on them.”

Despite not being able to travel at night, Frigo completed the journey begun June 14 -- shortly after his high school graduation -- on July 23, two days ahead of schedule. Photos from most legs of the trip are logged on the teen's Facebook and MySpace pages.

Two of his favorite moments were getting to see the Grand Canyon up-close and being led on a private tour of the U.S. Capitol building, Frigo told LX.

He also experienced his first slice of New York pizza.

So what’s next? Frigo said he was looking forward to seeing Niagara Falls before heading home.
 

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