Original hometown: Gastonia, NC
Current hometown: Charlotte, NC
Veteran status and Branch of service: n/a
Any military/veteran connection or are you riding in honor of a military member/veteran? n/a
How long have you been physically challenged?
JR: Motorcycle accident July 05, 2004
Mode of ambulation? (wheelchair, cane/crutches, prosthetic):
JR: Manual everyday wheelchair
Paralympic or other medals for cycling, etc.:
JR: I have travelled the south east for the last two years racing my handcycle in the H3 class and placed on the podium several times. During Spring and Summer I also race a time trial series at Charlotte Motor Speedway which includes one race each month for 6 months where I have also placed on the podium. There is a great group of cyclists I ride with on a weekly schedule and these guys motivate me to be a better cyclist.
Personal reason for making the ride?
JR: People often tell me that I inspire them when they see or hear about all the accomplishments and activities I participate in. However, I rarely get asked what inspires me. Even though I spend the majority of my time around recreational sports which includes wheelchair tennis, ice curling, cycling and occasional snow skiing, I truly enjoy my volunteer time at Carolina’s Rehabilitation working with newly injured spinal cord patients. It is here that I get my purpose. I have worked with many families and individuals dealing with a new life altering disability. These patients are usually confused, scared or depressed and sometimes not open to listening to my life experience using a wheelchair (for mobility and fun). However, after I leave the patient he/she is happier and willing to increase their therapy sessions and I enjoy seeing patient’s family glimmer with hope once they see from me that life is still a happy place. I also get the pleasure of interacting with many of these same patients outside of the rehab once they are released and ready to move forward. Love seeing a past patient become a team mate! When I volunteer at rehab I will visit with many different people with different levels of disability and some are not as fortunate as I am as a paraplegic. And so for my two personal reasons for motivating myself to handcycle across the USA is to first encourage all those newly injured families to move forward; life is what you make it. I tell all my patients that success is not measured in the steps we walk but the steps we take to achieve our goals. Secondly, I know many individuals which would love to do this cycling event but can’t physically do it. Their heart and mind are fighting their level of disability. I will be cycling for those that can’t; they inspire me to push harder. When I’m cycling those tough hills, rain and headwind my mind and heart will be with those that wish to be by my side but can’t and the families on their way to rehab for the very first time.
Message to others with physical challenges about the benefits of participation in Adaptive Sports.
JR: Adaptive sports is not just an activity, it will promote self-confidence, healthier habits, breed success and an over- all happiness while meeting new lifelong friends. Because of my participation with adaptive sports it has encouraged me to go on to finish my Biology degree, compete in sports competitively, traveled across the USA and on my way to become a pilot. Adaptive sports have truly made the biggest difference in my life! I challenge anyone with a disability to at least try one adaptive activity he/she might enjoy. Take the time to reach out to a recreational program within the community. If the community doesn’t offer anything, move to a town that does; it is that important to have a fun enjoyable life!