By Danny Restivo
A former Mahoning Valley resident’s goal of a world record came a to a tragic end Tuesday night.
Robert Perry, a Liberty native, was hoping to become the world’s first person to ride a motorcycle 25,000 miles in 25 days.
According to Texas Highway Patrol, around 10:45 p.m. Perry was hit by an oncoming vehicle while he was parked along Highway 259 in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Police said he was lost and on the phone talking with family members, when a driver failed to see him in the dark. The driver then dialed 911 before emergency crews arrived.
After the accident, Perry was taken to Memorial-Hermann Texas Medical Center in Houston where doctors amputated his right leg, said his granddaughter Glamour Perry.
His ride, which began in Hobbs, N.M., would have taken Perry through 49 states, including British Columbia, but it wasn’t the record that motivated Perry.
By embarking on this journey, Perry, who now lives in Lemitar, N.M., hoped to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Make-A-Wish, which began in 1980, seeks to grant wishes of children who have life-threatening medical conditions, according to its website, www.wish.org.
The 63-year-old Vietnam veteran has already helped raise $40,000 for the organization, but he hoped this record-setting trip could surpass that amount.
“If you can see all the children that benefit from Make-A-Wish, you would know why I’m doing this,” Perry said in a statement before the trip.
The ride, which began June 11 in Hobbs, N.M., was scheduled to bring Perry through the Youngstown area Sunday and again July 5.
His mother, who lives in Liberty, was looking forward to seeing him.
“He’s got a big heart,” said Cecelia Perry.
Unfortunately its not the first time tragedy has struck her family.
The mother of five has seen two of her sons die. She lost her first son, Tom, to cancer in 2001. After his death, Robert decided to buy a motorcycle because he “felt life was too short,” she said.
His interest in bikes was shared by his oldest brother, Sam, but in 2010, tragedy struck again when Sam died of a heart attack.
Cecilia hoped Sam’s legacy would be present during Robert’s travels.
“May Sam’s spirit be with him and all his guardian angels,” she said a week after her son departed.
Robert Perry has been a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles for the past 17 years, and with the organization’s support, he believed the trip would be a success.
“They know once I am on my bike, I am going to get to wherever I want to go,” he said in his press release.
After his July 5 stop in Youngstown, Perry planned to end his journey that day when he was scheduled to pull into the Eagles International convention in Grand Rapids, Mich.