Ron Storms wishes his aunt Jane could have had a service dog growing up, he said, but the idea of training dogs to help people with disabilities was not popular back then.
His now 60-year-old aunt wouldn’t be able to adapt to a service dog, Storms said. But he, along with his dog Onyx have been biking across America to help others get one.
Storms, 49, who lived in Quarryville for 20 years, is on the cusp of completing Onyx’s Great Adventure, a 3,000-mile journey across the country to raise money and awareness for service dogs and those who rely on them.
Storms began his journey in March in Oregon, with Onyx in tow and his partner, Meghan Shreiner, following close behind in a support vehicle with their other dog Phoenix.
“Anybody that this helps, that’s just why we did it,” Storms said. “We just figured we could ... go out and do something rather than just sit behind a computer and click keys and say ‘Hey, you want to donate?’”
The trip has raised more than $11,000 as of Tuesday, all of which will go to Cochranville-based nonprofit Canine Partners for Life, which trains service dogs to provide physical assistance and companionship to its clients, according to its website k94life.org.
Training a service dog can cost up to $30,000 and takes two years to complete, according to the National Service Animal Registry.
Biking across 10,000-foot elevations and hundred-mile stretches of desolate land, Storms and Onyx have survived freezing cold and red hot temperatures throughout their four-month trip, Storms said, resting during the night in a modified trailer that he built with Shreiner.
Blog posts at onyxsgreatadventure.org detail numerous challenges the group faced during the journey, including flat tires and sickness.
“The wind is making for a tough ride for Ron, it makes him feel like he is traveling uphill or twice as far as he really has,” a post from April 6 read.
Though Onyx would rather run alongside the bike, Shreiner, 36, said, the 85-pound dog rests in a cart as Storms pedals. When Onyx is too worn out, he switches roles with Phoenix or a wooden dog stand-in named “Fonyx.”
Storms has rescued and adopted dogs his entire life and is close with others who could benefit from service dogs, both of which also motivated him to take his journey, he said.
He will complete his journey around 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Canine Partners for Life, 334 Faggs Manor Road, Cochranville in Chester County.