PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It was wheels up Friday for one native Long Islander, who rolled right along in a 122-mile journey across the suburban island in his wheelchair.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, it was all to raise awareness on the roads for the disabled, as well as some love for homeless animals.

In Port Washington on the easternmost shore of Nassau County, Gabriel Cordell completed his weeklong trip to hearty applause from his many supporters.

Each of them was amazed at the wheelchair-bound Cordell’s strength and determination, considering that he rolled his muscle powered-only wheelchair all the way across the island’s busy roadways.

“For completing his 122-mile journey from Montauk Point to North Shore Animal League America… it’s my honor to present you with this award,” said Jill Burkhart of North Shore Animal League America.

Cordell risked numerous hazards on the road, and those life-threatening dangers were on his mind as he finished his rolling travels.

“The first thing was, thank God I made it — safely,” Cordell said.

Cordell ran partly to remind drivers there are other people using the roadways. But he also endured the draining trip to raise money for the North Shore Animal League America shelter in Port Washington.

Volunteers at the no-kill shelter greeted Cordell by rolling out a puppy amputee with his own set of wheels.

“Honestly, the dog in the wheelchair – the puppy – for me, that was the star,” Cordell said.

Cordell was the real star, though – sharing, getting hugs from all who love him. Shelter managers said all the money raised will help expand their mission of rescuing homeless animals.

“The soon-to-be-state-of-the-art feline adoption center will enable us to rescue even more animals, by adding a 14,000-square-foot second floor cage-free feline facility to our existing adoption center,” Burkhart said.

“It’s a feel-good story,” added Cordell, “And it makes you feel warm inside.”

Cordell said he now looks forward to being warm inside for resting up a while, before considering perhaps an even longer journey for the cause.


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