Troy Falconer recently had the tips of two toes removed because of an infection.
The surgery didn’t slow him down for long.
Soon, the 49-year-old Janesville man was back on his recumbent trike pedaling for a cause.
Falconer has a passion for animals, especially dogs.
Last month, he began a 500-mile challenge to raise money for the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.
The challenge ends Sept. 30.
“If I don’t make it by the time limit,” Falconer said, “I will feel guilty and keep right on going anyway.”
So far, he has raised more than $1,600.
Maybe you have seen Falconer, wearing a Tampa Bay Rays jersey and sporting a flag promoting the professional baseball team on the back of his blue trike.
One of his favorite rides is from his home on the east side to Riverside Park.
On good days, he might pedal all the way to Fort Atkinson and back.
To help pass the miles, Falconer enjoys listening to 1980s heavy metal bands, including his favorite, Soul Asylum. If the Rays are playing, he won’t miss a minute of the action.
That Falconer rides at all is an act of grit.
He has had type 1 diabetes since age 4 and depended on insulin injections to stay alive for decades.
A few years ago, with both kidneys failing, Falconer underwent a dual kidney and pancreas transplant at UW Hospital in Madison.
“It was amazing,” he said. “After I came out of the surgery, I didn’t have to take shots anymore or test my blood sugar.”
He praised the surgical team who labored long and diligently to give him a new life.
“I woke up, and I wasn’t even tired,” Falconer said.
In the years prior to his surgery, “it wasn’t fun by any means,” he said. “I would eat and throw up. It was real ugly then.”
In January, Falconer had what he called a “full-fledged stroke,” and he has had smaller strokes.
He acknowledges his challenges.
But he said he has not suffered like homeless and hungry animals.
Motivated to make a difference, Falconer rides almost every day, even though he has little feeling in his feet.
Still, he feels better than he ever has.
“That’s really no exaggeration,” he said, crediting the transplants and staying active.
His friend, Roberta Haakinson, encouraged him to raise money for the humane society, where Falconer got his beloved dog, Bella.
“Roberta said I should do something to raise money,” Falconer said. “Otherwise, all I was doing was riding my bike.”
Knowing Falconer has enriched Haakinson’s life.
“Troy has overcome all kinds of health issues,” Haakinson said. “He is such an inspiration to people who are going through all kinds of things.”
She called Falconer a kind and cheerful person who likes to encourage others.
Kaitie Swedlund is director of development and fundraising at the humane society.
“People like Troy are incredibly important to us,” she said. “A good chunk of our funding that we use to save lives every day comes from our donors.”
She called Troy passionate about what he is doing.
“When I met him, he talked about how cycling is a great outlet for him,” Swedlund said. “He also talked about how much he loves animals. We are all passionate about the animals.”
Anna Marie Lux is a human interest columnist for The Gazette. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.