When we started paracycling in the Coachella Valley through the Tour De Palm Springs in 2010, four amputees joined in to ride the 5-mile ride. Within two years we had enough handcycles to offer monthly clinics in the Palm Desert Civic Center Park. Today these riders are spending 2-3 hours on the road covering 20-25 miles. And the Tour? There are more than 200 riders with disabilities registering to walk or ride each year.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Damian Sanchez, Handcyclist 2017 and 2018
We have watched our riders grow in numbers and their performance advance. We have seen their health improve and their engagement in the community grow.
Engaging other organizations in the Tour and the Ability Festival has resulted in a growing number of adaptive sports and recreation programs for people with developmental disabilities across the Coachella Valley. Participating alongside other Paralympian level programs has brought a wide array of opportunities to our youth.
We are now entering a new phase where these athletes will be entering high school and hope that during the coming year we will see the advent of competitive adaptive sports on our campuses. We plan, as well, to launch a scholarship program so that any youth with a physical disability will have access to adaptive sports equipment.
We often say “It is not what we do but what happens because of what we do.” To those who have found new careers, or went back to college, learned to drive or pursue a passion, we commend you. The independence and mobility you found in cycling is evident in how you now live your lives.
Keep coming back – and bring a friend.