42-year old actor Suheil Aghabi (better known as Gabriel Cordell) is planning to make his way across the country in a wheelchair to mark his victory over a 3-1/2 year cocaine addiction, and to inspire people with disabilities as well as struggling addicts. He will be joined by his nephew 21-year old Christopher Kawas and a film crew who will document the journey.
Aghabi has been confined to a wheelchair after becoming paralyzed in a car accident near his West Hempstead, NY home more than 20 years ago. Although he now lives in Burbank, CA, Aghabi plans to make it back to his hometown on Long Island by June (after leaving California April 1), traveling the approximately 3,300 in a custom-built chair.
“He’s got a big heart and when he puts his mind to something he usually gets it done,” commented Kawas, adding that his uncle is “educating people about the project and raising funds for the trip through an online video trailer available at rollwithme.org.
Since posting the video, Aghabi has received more than $17,000 in donations, including $10,000 from sponsor Joseph Mitchell, CEO of beverage company West Coast Chill. He also hopes to raise at least $200,000 more to cover all expenses for the trip, including rental of a RV for the six-man crew.
An additional fundraiser will be held on April 6th at Stinger’s Irish Pub in Rockville Centre, NY, sponsored by Aghabi’s friend Mike Schultz of Baldwin Harbor.