Jimmy Button could have held a golf tournament to raise money for spinal cord research. Or hosted a celebrity poker tournament. Or started a Facebook campaign.
It wasn't enough. Not nearly enough for the former motocross star who has spent the past decade slowly, painfully recovering from a career-ending crash in San Diego that initially left him paralyzed from the neck down.
"I wanted to do something that was ridiculously difficult or ridiculously crazy," Button said.
Now the rider who was once told he might never walk again is hoping to make a statement on a very different kind of bike.
Button and longtime friend and trainer Cory Worf are pedaling from San Diego to Daytona Beach, Fla., as part of a project Button is calling "Miles for Miracles." The goal is to raise $1 million for the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California-Irvine and send a message about the ever blurring line between the possible and impossible.
"I want people to think, 'If he's doing this, maybe it's worth us reaching in our pocket and sending 20 bucks,"' Button said. "I want to push myself beyond what I've ever done. There's no joke about it. It's one of the toughest things I've ever had to do. I hope it spurs people to contribute."
They'll begin their two-month, 2,428-mile trek on Feb. 20 at QualComm Stadium just yards from the spot where Button's motocross career came to a sudden halt on Jan. 22, 2000.
The 37-year-old Button doesn't lay awake at night replaying the way he flipped over the handlebars of his 250cc Yamaha and landed on his head, maybe because his condition after the crash left him plenty of time to reflect.
The impact of the fall pinched his spinal cord near the top of his neck, causing him to lose feeling in his extremities for months.
Laid up in a bed for weeks, Button went through whole "what if" thing, wondering how his life would be different if the front wheel of his Yamaha hadn't dipped quite so much when he entered a tricky section of the demanding QualComm course.
Would he have become a champion? Would he have gone down as one of the sport's all-time greats? Would he have met his wife? Would he have evolved beyond the fun-loving kid who first hopped on a bike before he knew the alphabet?
Maybe. Maybe not.
The crash forced Button to reinvent himself, both physically and professionally. Worf has been right by Button's side during the long road back.
Worf began training Button in the late-1990s. The two grew so close Worf dropped his other clients when Button was injured and spent weeks in the hospital monitoring his friend's recovery, doing everything from brushing Button's teeth to combing his hair.
He'd wheel Button to physical therapy, then wheel him back to his hospital room, where Worf would lead Button through another grueling five to six hours of exercises.
"It's a humbling experience to see somebody go from being one of the top athletes in the world at what they do to being in a halo unable to move," Worf said.
Worf recalls days when he would bark at Button over and over to get him to perform even the simplest tasks as feeling in his limbs returned nerve ending by nerve ending.
"You're staring at him, telling him to 'move your thumb, move your thumb,' and you end up doing it for him," Worf said.
Then one day the thumb twitched. Afraid of getting his hopes up, Worf worried it was a spasm.
It wasn't. It was Jimmy.
"Other than my children being born, that's the most emotional thing in my entire life," Worf said.
The breakthrough was only the beginning. When Button was finally discharged from the rehabilitation center six months later, his 6-foot-4 frame carried only 115 pounds.
Though he eventually learned to walk again, balance remains an issue. Button recalls wearing a special belt with loops on it so that if he suddenly felt himself teetering someone nearby could reach for his waist and steady him.
"Even when my arms and legs started to work again, it was pretty ugly sight for a long period of time," Button said. "I was walking like the Tin Man with no oil."
Yet Button had enough money saved from his riding career to help him attack his condition with the same kind of aggressiveness that made him one of the most accomplished racers of the '90s.
"I've worked with athletes my entire life and I've never seen anybody work as hard as he did in rehab," Worf said.
While Button symbolically hopped on a motorbike for a short ride two years after the accident, it took all of three minutes to realize that part of his life was officially over.
It was time to begin the next chapter in his life. He started his own sports agency, working with riders in search of sponsorship and endorsement deals. He sold it to Wasserman Media Group a few years ago and still represents 11 clients.
Button helped found the Road 2 Recovery program shortly after his accident. The foundation provides financial and emotional support to riders who sustain career-ending injuries.
Still, he needed to do more, something that could have an impact beyond the insulated world of motocross. He believes there's a cure for paralysis and talks enthusiastically about advancements in stem cell research.
"I think it's going to be a thing of the past," he said. "I'd rather it be 10 years from now than 100 years from now."
He wanted to help. The answer how came while watching a story about spinal cord research on "60 Minutes" that profiled a doctor at the Reeve-Irvine center. He called up Worf and asked his friend what he thought about riding across the country for charity.
Worf wondered if Button could even balance himself on a bike much less ride it from coast to coast. Worf also knew, however, that trying to talk him out of it was pointless.
"He wanted to prove to himself that he could do this," Worf said. "It's for him as much as it is for anybody else."
Compounding Button's issues is the nerve damage from the crash that prevents him from sweating or feeling his body temperature. He has to carefully monitor his fluid intake and the color of his urine to determine his hydration levels. He can't ride comfortably when it's too hot or too cold, which is why he set the ride for late winter-early spring.
In the 18 months since he came up with the idea, Button has progressed from barely getting through a 12-minute ride on an indoor trainer to daylong jaunts through Southern California.
He's also rediscovered the athlete within. Button is up to a sinewy 163 pounds, but knows a big issue during the ride will be whether he can take in sufficient calories to keep up with his lightning quick metabolism while riding about 60 miles a day.
It's enough to make him laugh. Days into the new millennium he wasn't sure he would be able to put one foot in front of the other. Now he's embarking on the trip of a lifetime in hopes of providing inspiration to those imprisoned by paralysis.
Can he raise $1 million pedaling along Interstate 10? Button needs 200,000 people to text bike to 85944, triggering a $5 donation. Sure he could have set his goal lower, but that's never been his way.
"I jumped off a cliff on this thing, that's for sure," he said. "The response has been exciting. People think I'm crazy or stupid, but they're responding."