Cyclists riding to raise awareness about disabilities

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Two cyclists will spend the next ten days on a “Journey Along the Erie Canal.” They know what to expect. This will be their fifth trek.

“Twelve days from now, with one day off, we should be in Albany on July 7, so 375 miles,” John Robinson explained.

Robinson will be joined by Doug Hamlin. Both are partners in the organization known as Our Ability. The journey offers a chance at conversation and the opportunity to change minds and mindsets. “We’re doing it to meet people with disabilities along the way. The companies that are sponsoring, like M&T Bank, are employing people with disabilities, and that’s what this is all about,” Robinson said.

“There’s a been a number of adventures along the way. Anything you might expect with a big bike ride. There’s flat tires and mechanical issues,” Hamlin admitted. A team of volunteers and family members follow to help along the way.

“We’re really in good shape. The logistics are good. The crowd is good, so we’re really in good shape,” Hamlin noted.

Robinson stressed the significance of having other companies come on board. “For years, companies have seen us do this, and they get involved… and really then, they ask to employ people with disabilities, and that’s what this is about — coming full circle.”

“The company absolutely supports this on every level,” Marcie Vassallo, M&T Manager of Talent Acquisition said. “We’ve been putting a targeted focus and working more with the individuals within our organization — to help support hiring more people with disabilities into the bank.”

“The reason we started our organization eight years ago is about employment, so we want people to have employment as a first option in their lives,” Robinson stressed.

These riders promise with perseverance and patience anything is possible.

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