(WKTV) - The Oneida-Lewis chapter of the ARC joined an historic ride Tuesday to raise awareness of the capabilities of people with disabilities.
John Robinson was born a congenital amputee without full arms and legs. Only in adulthood did he pass the milestone of learning to ride a bike.
"I got on the hand cycle, put it on the road in front of my house, and my two younger children were on either side of me, teaching me to ride a bicycle," said Robinson. "And it brought a lot of emotion to me because I remember the time when my wife taught them to ride a bike and I couldn't."
That emotion, along with support of his wife, drove him to expect more from himself and others.
"I realized that I missed an opportunity as a child," he said. "They didn't have opportunities like this or to play wheelchair rugby. It just wasn't available when I was a child."
The family took a few bike rides together. That was the warm up. And now...Robinson and company are riding the 300-plus-mile Erie Canal Trail System -- overcoming obstacles figuratively and literally.
"The biggest challenge is the unknown," he said. "What you can't train for is the unknown."
Dozens from the Oneida-Lewis ARC chapter rode the first five miles of this leg of the journey as it left from Lock 20 on Tuesday morning.
"Their theme and their ideas are what our association stands for," said Mark Brandt of the New York State ARC.
Doug Hamlin is joining Robinson on the journey.
"If we can raise one piece of awareness, or give someone with a disability the ability to open a door tomorrow that they haven't opened, that's what we want to do," Hamlin said.