Journey Along the Erie Canal 2016 will raise awareness of the progress made by people with disabilities and the education and employment opportunities that lie ahead
On Sunday, June 26, John Robinson and Doug Hamlin will begin leading their fourth annual Journey Along the Erie Canal, a 350-mile, 12-day bicycle ride across upstate New York via the scenic and historic Erie Canalway Trail. NYSID is once again the proud video sponsor.
The two men are partners in Glenmont-based Our Ability, a network of consulting, public speaking, recruitment and professional services that champions the inclusivity of people with disabilities in the workplace.
“Each year our journey aims to raise awareness of the ability inside all people with disabilities,” Robinson said. “Along the way, we will connect with athletes and other individuals with disabilities and promote inclusive tourism along the historic Erie Canal.”
The tour begins in Buffalo’s Canal Side Park and concludes on July 8 at Jennings Landing in Albany. As the tour makes its way across New York, numerous advocacy groups and organizations supporting the rights of people with disabilities will join Robinson and Hamlin for parts of the trip.
“NYSID congratulates John and his fellow riders as they look forward to the fourth annual Journey event,” said Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO. “Over the years, the team has met up with NYSID member agencies from Buffalo to Albany, cycling together and celebrating inclusive opportunities for all New Yorkers. NYSID is privileged to join with the New York State Canal Corporation, NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, and other sponsors of this motivating example of the power within.”
This year’s ride also marks the launch of the New York Business Leadership Network (NYBLN), a coalition among businesses in New York State interested in both hiring and building supplier diversity of businesses owned by individuals with disabilities.
The NYBLN was formed by Our Ability in December 2015 in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 executive order establishing the Employment First Commission to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities in New York. The executive order calls for 100 businesses to commit to formal policies to hire people with disabilities as part of their diversity strategy.
“NYBLN’s dual goals are to inspire those individuals with disabilities to achieve their dreams through education and employment as well as to educate able-bodied individuals about the differences in ability around us,” Robinson said.
Born as a congenital amputee without full arms and legs, Robinson overcame countless obstacles to become a successful businessman, husband, father and inspirational speaker. In 2011 he founded Our Ability with Hamlin, a 28-year veteran of the software industry who is also disabled as the result of an accident in 1983. At Our Ability, they help to mentor and inspire people with disabilities through positive video stories. In 2014, Robinson was one of 10 people nationally named a White House Champion of Change for Disability Employment.
Robinson was inspired to undertake the first Journey Along the Erie Canal by his wife, Andrea, and two children after receiving a three-wheeled, hand-operated cycle as a donation. His family helped him learn how to ride and then train for the statewide journey. Hamlin joined Robinson that first year and saw what the ride could symbolize. He will once again ride alongside Robinson on his own specialized hand cycle.
As in previous years, Our Ability’s partners for the journey include NYSID, New York State Canal Corporation, the Disability Education Forum of New York, Inc., the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, and NYSARC, Inc.
Additional sponsors include SEFCU; Price Chopper; Realty USA; Albany Medical Center; Iseman, Cunningham, Riester & Hyde, LLP; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP; NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities; SRI Fire Sprinkler; David Connors RBC Wealth Management and Albany Law School.