Paraplegic man hand cycling 1,000 miles around Florida | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Biking one thousand miles would be challenging for anyone, but imagine doing it if you were a paraplegic.
A Colorado man isn't letting his disability get in the way of his dream. He embarked from Jacksonville Monday on what he calls the Florida Hope Tour 2013.
"It's not about what you can't do. It's about what you can do," said Rich Dixon.
Over the next five weeks, Dixon plans to hand cycle 1,000 miles around the perimeter of Florida.
"Why? Some people would say I'm crazy. It's the continuation of a dream. A year and a half ago, I rode the length of the Mississippi River. That was a long standing dream of mine. I thought it was going to be a one-time deal. When we got to the end, we realized it wasn't a one time deal," said Dixon.
With his wife following close by in a car, and his service dog Monte running alongside him a few miles a day, the Dixons came from Ft. Collins, Colorado.
"He's amazing. He inspires me every day," said his wife, Becky Dixon.
Twenty-five years ago, Rich Dixon fell off his roof while putting up Christmas lights. The accident left him paralyzed from his chest down.
"I use these hooks because I don't have any grip and so basically it just pedals. This is backwards. It just pedals like this," said Dixon as he demonstrated how his hand cycle works.
He relies mostly on his shoulders and upper back to move his hand cycle, and move it he can. He plans to go 40 to 50 miles a day. A GPS device behind his seat tracks real time where he is.
"We are defined by what we can do, and I'm proof of that. I'm not a wheelchair. I'm a guy who has overcome adversity and is trying to demonstrate you can still do interesting, amazing things," said Dixon.
On his journey, he's raising money to help combat child hunger. He has partnered with the faith-based organization Convoy of Hope. On his ride along the Mississippi River, he said he raised nearly $60,000.
"What I like to say is we are together on a journey of hope. Rich retired in 2009 from teaching junior high kids math for 35 years, and he said 'I'm not done yet. I still have something to give back, but let's do something bigger than ourselves and work for a cause,'" said Becky Dixon.
Since 1999, Becky said her husband has hand cycled more than 25,000 miles, and he has no plans of slowing down.
"My dream is to let people know that they don't need to be defined by their limitations," said Rich Dixon. "We are capable of so much more than we believe we are capable of, and people just need to decide what their dream is and step out and do it."
Dixon made it to St. Augustine on Monday night. He plans to end his journey in Tallahassee. Along the way, he plans to stop and speak to local groups and share his message of hope. If you would like him to speak to your group or learn more about his ride and mission, visit his Facebook page or website.