Ed Murray, News 9
EL BOLSON, Argentina -- A Bethany motorcycle group on a charity ride spanning two continents is determined that a member's serious crash in Argentina won't detour it from its mission of raising money for several different causes.
News 9 introduced the group who are riding 10,000 miles from the southern tip of South America back to Bethany, Oklahoma to raise money, dubbing the ride Miles With A Mission.
One of the members, Doug Eaton, crashed last Friday when his motorcycle hit an unmarked speed bump at 45 miles per hour on a road in El Bolson, Argentina. Eaton broke several ribs and endured a harrowing 75-mile ride through the Andes Mountains to reach a hospital for emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding.
There were times when his fellow team members thought they would lose him.
Eaton said he had talked at length to his family about the potential dangers of this trip, but discussions like that are easily avoided. Just one week into his journey, however, his family in Oklahoma City got that dreaded phone call.
"You're just immediately, we just hit our knees and were praying fervently," said his daughter Kristin Willingham.
And those prayers have apparently been answered. Eaton is recovering well in a hospital in Bariloche.
"He has just spoken so highly of his doctors and staff there so it's all turned out to be a great end to a scary story," Willingham said.
But that's not the end of the story. Willingham's dad is looking past his recovery.
"It didn't surprise me at all that after this turn of events, that he was more committed than ever to finish and has a plan already in place to do that," Willingham said.
The riders have broken into two groups because of the crash. One group has continued the trip and the others will wait until Eaton recovers to finish the ride.
The lead group has arrived in Chile. Members of Eaton's group plan to be back on their bikes in Argentina in mid-April.
"He is an adventurous spirit and he has that fire within him that will do things such as this and we just love him for it. It makes him who he is," Willingham said.
Eaton is riding for several causes, including a grant at Southern Nazarene University. He met his wife there. His children went to school there. They met their spouses at SNU. And now he wants it to be a fertile ground for our country's future leaders.