By Kirsten Robbins
24 year-old Saul Raisin from Dalton, Georgia, is competing in is own Tour of California this week on a quest to raise support for his Raisin Hope foundation. He is racing each stage ahead of the peloton in preparation for the Raisin Hope ride on March 31, 2007, in his hometown of Dalton. He crossed the finish line of stage two in Sacramento thirty minutes ahead of the peloton's scheduled arrival and talked to Cyclingnews about his recovery after coming out of a coma just eleven months ago.
"When I was in the hospital bed I told my mom that if I ever ride a bike again I want to help the people that helped me," Raisin said. "I honestly feel that you can do anything that you set your mind too. I feel like I have been given another chance at life. Riding here and completing each stage of the Tour of California is used to show people that you can do anything."
Raisin was one of America's brightest talents in road cycling riding for France-based team Crédit Agricole in 2005 and 2006. The team noticed him while racing in several European events for the under 23 national team in 2004. After spending one year with their espoir program, Raisin joined their professional ranks and had a successful spring until Circuit de la Sarthe held in April of last year.
Raisin was involved in a crash during the Circuit de la Sarthe that resulted in a hematoma on the right side of his brain. He was rushed to the hospital and remained in a coma for over one week and paralyzed on the left side of his body. "I had a hematoma the size of a lemon in my brain because my head hit the ground so hard that it split my helmet and lacerated the top of my head," Raisin said. "I have seven staples in the top of my head; if it wasn't for wearing my helmet the doctors said that my brain would have been lying on the concrete."
The young talent was transferred from a French hospital to Atlanta Georgia while still in a coma state where he woke remembering nothing of the bike accident. "Other guys in the race that day told me that I slipped on a patch of gravel," Raisin said. "I remember flashes when I was in the hospital and in a coma. It was like someone had their hands over my eyes and would take them away for a second to see my mom's face or a friend's face and then cover them back up. They were like little flashes of memories."
Not only did he suffer from head trauma but he also had a broken scapula and collar bone of which he was unaware due to the paralysis the left side of his body. "When I woke up in Atlanta, Georgia I didn't realize I was injured because I didn't have any pain," Raisin continued. "I didn't know that I had broken bones because I was paralyzed and the injuries had healed before I could move again. My brain trauma was on the right side and caused my to be paralyzed on the left."
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