An Orland Park man was hospitalized after being involved in an accident while riding his bicycle cross-country for charity, according to an organizer of the effort.
Tim Lalla, 24, posted on his Facebook page on Friday that he was struck by a Ford F-150 while bicycling through Alabama on Thursday.
He was in the midst of bicycling to all 30 Major League Baseball ballparks for the organization Biking for Baseball, but that journey is now over, organizers said.
Rex Roberts, executive director for Biking for Baseball, said Lalla suffered a minor broken back, minor fractures on his spine and a fracture on his face in the accident about 40 miles west of Tuscaloosa.
He said the driver of the truck stopped and authorities continue to investigate the accident.
Roberts said Lalla underwent a six-hour surgery on Friday at a hospital in Birmingham, and was there visiting him on Sunday.
"He’s doing well," Roberts said. "He just stood up and took a few steps for the first time."
He said Lalla has been heavily sedated, but was lucid for a short time and issued a statement.
"This trip has been absolutely incredible," Lalla said in the statement. "I can’t say how devastated I am that this is how it ends. The places, stories, but especially the wonderful people I’ve met across the country has made this adventure amazing."
Lalla’s trip began in Seattle on Opening Day, April 3, and he was traveling between Houston and Atlanta when the accident occurred.
His goal was to travel about 11,500 miles and raise $160,000 to help put children in need through college.
Biking for Baseball began in 2012 and Lalla was making the third cross-country trip for the organization.
At each of the stops, charity organizers partner with other groups, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and the YMCA, to host baseball clinics for up to 40 children, Roberts said.
He said Lalla would have finished his trip at Wrigley Field after visiting the White Sox.
Roberts said some ball clubs officially recognized Lalla during his visit, and organizers had been planning to reach out to the Cubs and White Sox before his arrival.
He, Lalla and other organizers still hope to raise money this year through other events. Lalla is expected to soon return to Orland Park.
Lalla wants to continue his mission, according to his statement.
"For those wanting to help and show their support I ask the same thing I have all summer," he said. "First, consider becoming a mentor and volunteering some of your time to help your community and be a good influence in a kid’s life, and second, consider donating to the cause and helping us get this scholarship funded."
More info can be found at bikingforbaseball.org.
Frank Vaisvilas is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.