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Celebrating the ADA: Presenting Blake, Master of Ceremonies

The Americans with Disabilities Act turns 23 this week, on July 26. To commemorate the anniversary of this groundbreaking law, we’re highlighting the stories of those who have turned to bicycling to help propel them forward in their communities, and we’ll be posting blogs every day this week. This post comes from Stephanie Bowling Morrill, the 2013 Programs to Educate All Cyclists Intern. She shares Blake’s story.  

There is a cycling race that takes place in Sylvania, Ohio, every year and I had an opportunity to be a part of it this year over the Independence Day holiday. It all started with a 13-year-old boy who has Cerebral Palsy. He has been attending the race for the past few years to watch his aunt and uncle participate. This young man, Blake, has had the dream of being able to ride in the kid’s race, but with his wheelchair, he never imagined it’d ever be possible.

Blake talked to a gentleman who helps coordinate the event and let him know about how he would love to ride in the race. The man then contacted The Ability Center of Greater Toledo and asked them if there was anything they could do to help make this happen. Mark, an employee with The Ability Center, then contacted Programs to Educate All Cyclists to see if there was a way we could get a bike that would facilitate the Blake’s needs so he could participate in the race.

PEAC was able to get a bike that would accommodate Blake’s needs and we were able to take a few days and work with him and make any adjustments that we needed to so that the bike worked for him and he was as comfortable as possible during the race.

On the day of the race, we placed Blake on the bike and when it was almost time for his event, he and I rode the tandem up to the finish line. What he did not know was that they were about to announce that he was going to be the Master of Ceremonies for the entire venue — and he would be starting all of the races that remained that day!

After the announcement, I took him down to the start line where his uncle then captained the tandem with him in the race. He was all smiles! He has a great time racing and even was allowed to spend some extra time riding the course. The rest of the afternoon he started and watched the remaining races. It was a great day and I was honored to get to be a part of it!!

Focusing on the continued importance of the ADA, the League is supporting the National Disability Rights Network campaign to push Amtrak to meet ADA guidelines to create safe and complete stations. Learn more about the campaign, and please consider joining us here.

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