Disabled bicyclist rides for a cause

John Robinson on bicycle during a Journey Along the Erie Canal ride

John Robinson lives by what he preaches.

His message: “Don’t let your disability stop you from pursuing your dreams whether you want to be a doctor a lawyer or anything else.”

Born a congenital amputee, Robinson has faced many challenges, but he is grateful to his friends and family for encouraging him to pursue his education.

Recently he undertook his fifth annual Journey Along the Canal, a 12-day, 364-mile bike ride that starts in Buffalo, ends in Albany and winds straight through the heart of the Finger Lakes.

Robinson is the CEO and founder of Our Ability, which provides inclusive work force and employment consulting, mentoring, workshops, keynotes and seminars on disability and diversity. Our Ability’s clients have included Cargill, Inc., Microsoft, Bank of America, Aflac, SEFCU and Price Chopper.

He also founded Our Ability Connect, the only online platform where employers can directly connect with qualified candidates with disabilities by searching a digital profile service, posting employment opportunities and sponsoring virtual job fairs.

He is the executive director of the New York Business Leadership Network, whose mission, according to its website, is to “build a coalition among businesses in New York state interested in both hiring and building supplier diversity of businesses owned by people with disabilities.” He also was named one of 10 national White House Champions of Change in 2014.

“In 2014, with the support of Sen. Gillibrand, the New York State Barge Canal was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We are continually reminded of the ability within all as well as the history we have towards economic achievement in our own backyard,” Robinson said on his website. “This summer, individuals with disabilities, community organizers, political leaders and historians will join together for one mile or 350 miles as we hand-cycle across our great state once again.”

July 4 marked the bicentennial of the opening of the Erie Canal, an endeavor projected for failure that thrives still today. The canal is still a means of doing business, with a tremendous environmental, professional and personal impact for its thousands of travelers each year

Robinson also has been selected to be a guest speaker at the World Canals Conference held in Syracuse Sept. 24-28. He will be speaking about his experience during Journey Along the Canal. His topics will include the accessibility and opportunity that he’s learned and received from the canal, how the canal works today for people with disabilities with the intent to attract the interest of the younger and their parents and caregivers inspiring people to do more, regardless of their disabilities.

Robinson said his goal on the bike ride and via his address at the conference is to create more tax paying citizens vs. tax receiving and to better their future and make getting employed a right and not a handout.

Ryan Parry, fltimes.com.  “Disabled bicyclist rides for a cause”, www.fltimes.com, http://www.fltimes.com/news/disabled-bicyclist-rides-for-a-cause/article_411e7a1e-6bb3-11e7-8471-a3faeb9d6888.html, Accessed July 27, 2017

Image Courtesy of Canalway Trail Times