John Robinson and Doug Hamlin are on the road today, biking more than 300 miles along the State Barge Canal from Niawanda Park to the State Capitol in Albany. The two men are trying to prove how people with physical disabilities can make difficult trips like this.
Both Hamlin and Robinson have severe physical disabilities. Hamlin was born without his limbs and Robinson lost the use of his lower body in a trampoline accident three decades ago.
The men say they benefit from changing attitudes, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and computerized equipment to help them live their lives. The 12-day Journey Along the Erie Canal II is sponsored by a series of agencies like The Arc which work with people with physical disabilities.
Hamlin says that work is very obvious in more rural areas along the Barge Canal.
"In the rural areas, The Arc is probably the largest employer or the second largest employer in the area. So while many in the rural areas may not understand differing abilities, certainly the family members of those Arcs do. It's an opportunity for us to be the cheerleader for them and they can be the cheerleader for us as we wheel through," Hamlin said while preparing for the trip Sunday.
Hamlin says there is a growing supply of the equipment needed for projects like this, run through his and Robinson's group Our Ability. The special bicycles both ride were designed for them on a standard template.
They say that perhaps half of the working population came into the workforce after the ADA was passed and are used to people with disabilities in their offices or workplaces.