Riding to raise awareness

John Robinson, a quad amputee rides a hand bike as he takes off on the Journey Along the Erie Canal to travel along the Erie Canalway trails from Liberty ARC in Amsterdam to Price Chopper Head Quarters in Schenectady on Tuesday to raise awareness of the abilities of those with developmental and physical disabilities. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

AMSTERDAM — An advocate for employment for people with disabilities cycled off Tuesday on the Erie Canalway Trails to continue the cycle of raising awareness of the abilities of those with developmental and physical disabilities.

John Robinson and Doug Hamlin, who founded Our Ability, an organization dedicated to building employment opportunities for people with disabilities, went on their sixth annual Journey Along the Erie Canal. The two along with several other bikers traveled the Erie Canalway Trails ending at Price Chopper head quarters in Schenectady to spread awareness for disability employment.

“The reason we do this is, it’s obviously fun, and it’s exciting, but it’s also a way for us to raise awareness about employment for people with disabilities and the ability people have. We’re six years into this, and now after six years, it was an idea at first and now businesses are hiring people with disabilities because of what we do,” Robinson said. “Businesses are calling us asking us for ideas, support and manpower. It’s a cycle trip, but it’s much much more, and it’s about empowerment.”

Robinson said the idea for the Journey Along the Canal began about seven years ago. He said his wife challenged him to ride his hand cycle across New York state and suggested it would raise a lot of awareness.

“And she’s right, we have. I realize I look a little different when I ride in on a hand cycle, it makes some people wake up little bit, but it’s more about understanding everybody has ability,” Robinson said. “Everyone wants to have a role in life and a big part of that role is your job, what you do, where you go to work everyday, who you’re friends with.”

Riders make their way along the Journey Along the Erie Canal event to travel along the Erie Canalway trails from Liberty ARC in Amsterdam to Price Chopper Head Quarters in Schenectady on Tuesday to raise awareness of the abilities of those with developmental and physical disabilities. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Hosting the event was Liberty ARC. Also there was Our Ability’s corporate partner, Beech-Nut.

“We’re excited that Liberty is hosting us again and our corporate partner Beech-Nut is here,” Robinson said. “People like Liberty are trusting us that we have their back and reaching out to businesses in their best interest.”

Robinson said the day is more than just about cycling the Erie Canalway Trails, but also about building relationships between businesses and the disability community.

“This day is always especially fun because we have a lot of friends here, we’ll get a good crowd coming out cheering us on, but it’s the people that cycle with us. Great friends, great support, and that’s what this is about for me,” Robinson said. “Building that relationship with both business and disability community and then person to person.”

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