2 cyclists with disabilities will again ride 350-plus miles along canal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 June 2017 at 1:15 pm

File photos by Tom Rivers: John Robinson and Doug Hamlin are shown riding the Erie Canal Towpath on June 28, 2016 in Albion near Keitel Road. The two men use adaptive use bicycles to make the trip.

Two inspirational cyclists will be making their fifth trip by bike along the Erie Canal. John Robinson and Doug Hamlin embark on the trip Monday beginning in Buffalo.

They will be passing through Orleans County on Tuesday, starting in Medina at the Prospect Street lift bridge at 8:30 a.m. They will be at Carosol Park in Albion at about 10 a.m. That park is north of the canal at the corner of Ingersoll and Caroline streets.

Robinson and Hamlin will start their 12-day ride on Monday at Canalside Park in Buffalo at 8 a.m. Riders and spectators off all abilities are welcome to attend. The trip ends in Albany.

The two men are partners in Glenmont-based Our Ability, a network of consulting, public speaking, recruitment and professional services that champions the inclusivity of people with disabilities in the workplace.

“Each year our Journey aims to raise awareness of the ability inside all people with disabilities,” Robinson said. “Five years ago, our dream was to increase employment for people with disabilities in New York State. In part, our Journey has achieved this goal. We have businesses who work with us and employ people with disabilities.It is a dream come true.”

This year’s ride highlights the growth of the 30 business-member New York Business Leadership Network. The NYBLN is a coalition among businesses in New York State interested in both hiring and building supplier diversity of businesses owned by individuals with disabilities. The NYBLN was formed by Our Ability in December of 2015 in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 executive order establishing the Employment First Commission to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities in New York.

John Robinson meets with people with disabilities on June 30, 2015 when he stopped at The Arc of Orleans County.

Robinson and Hamlin make the 370-mile ride to highlight inclusivity, showing that people with disabilities are capable of big accomplishments.

“People with disabilities want to work, they want a family, they have hopes and dreams just like everybody,” Robinson said during a stop in Albion last year.

Robinson is a congenital amputee without full arms and legs. He overcame countless obstacles to become a successful businessman, husband, father and inspirational speaker.

Robinson was inspired to undertake the first Journey Along the Erie Canal in 2013 by his wife and two children after receiving a three-wheeled, hand-operated cycle as a donation. His family helped him learn how to ride and then train for the statewide journey.

Doug Hamlin uses a specialized hand cycle for the ride.

“If we can inspire one person to ride an extra mile it will have been worth it,” Hamlin said in Albion.

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