Cyclist wants to inspire people to ‘get up and get moving’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2013 at 12:00 am

John Robinson, a quad-amputee, is riding the Erie Canal

Photos by Tom Rivers – John Robinson of Albion leads caravan of bike riders, including his son Owen, front left, to a reception outside the former Albion Grammar School, which is now used for senior apartments and services for The Arc of Orleans County and senior citizens.

John Robinson addresses about 50 people at a reception organized by The Arc of Orleans County. Robinson was presented proclamations by Orleans County Legislator Bill Eick, a representative for State Sen. George Maziarz and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

ALBION – John Robinson pushed a 3-wheeled adaptive hand cycle 27 miles today in the hot sun.

Robinson doesn’t have any arms or legs. But he kept the recombinant hand cycle moving.

He is on a journey for 16 days across the 363-mile Erie Canal, a trip he is doing to raise awareness for people with disabilities and promote adaptive  sports for amputees.

“No matter what your age, no matter what your ability, no matter how tired or how discouraged you may feel, we can all do it,” Robinson told about 50 people during a reception in his honor at Albion. “We can get up and get moving and achieve.”

Robinson is joined on the trip by his wife of 19 years Andrea, their 15-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. Robinson’s son suggested the canal trip for his father, CEO of “Our Ability,” an organization that strives to connect people with disabilities to job and educational opportunities.

John Robinson and his wife Andrea were presented this quilt featuring local historical sites by Nicole Tuohey, second from right, and Erica Francis, who participate in the day rehabilitation program at The Arc.

Robinson believes the canal is a great symbol of determination and bold risk-taking by the state and U.S. officials nearly two centuries ago.

“The canal is an absolute hidden gem in New York State,” said Robinson, who lives in Albany. “It’s a symbol for economic development. But why not use it today for education and employment?”

Robinson trained the past four months for his trek across the canal. He was greeted by many consumers in The Arc of Orleans County today outside the former grammar school. He also was presented gifts from the Arc, including a quilt made by people in the day rehabilitation program. The quilt features historical scenes from the Albion area.

Local political leaders also presented Robinson with proclamations. State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, State Sen. George Maziarz and the Orleans County Legislature praised Robinson for his “extraordinary ability to connect, inspire and achieve.”

The Arc of Orleans was pleased to host Robinson, said Kellie Spychalski, The Arc executive director.

“He is very inspiring to a lot of people, whether they are people we serve or a member of our staff,” Spychalski said.

Robinson traveled with family and friends from Lockport to Albion today. He starts day three of trip tomorrow in Albion, beginning at about 8:30 a.m. at the Main Street lift bridge and heading east to Spencerport.

For more information, check Robinson’s web site by clicking here.