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NYSID News Blog

July 9, 2013

What a Day, What a Journey

Category: General — NYSID @ 3:36 pm


A crowd of more than 100 people welcomed John Robinson home on Monday, as his ambitious, 16-day, 350-mile Journey Along the Erie Canal ended with a wonderful closing ceremony at Riverfront Park in downtown Albany.

“The Erie Canal is the symbol of inspiration and achievement. A dream to cooperate for a purpose spurred on American development. Our Ability chose the Erie Canal to help inspire all people touched by disability toward a new wave of economic development. Inspiring all people with disabilities toward education and employment through achievement can help rebuild our economy,” Robinson said.

The Journey was conceived by Robinson, a renowned entrepreneur, advocate, and motivational speaker whose personal story has inspired thousands. As a congenital amputee born without full arms and legs, Robinson overcame countless obstacles to become a successful businessman, family man and inspirational keynote speaker. Through his organization –– Our Ability –– Robinson mentors, connects, and inspires people with disabilities toward education and employment.

Beginning June 23 in Tonawanda, Robinson and members of Our Ability traveled by bike and boat, and ran and walked the Erie Canal and Canalway Trail all the way to Albany, to increase awareness of the ability inside all people with disabilities, and raise funds to support adaptive sports, accessibility, education, and employment for all New Yorkers with disabilities.

Robinson completed the Journey using an adaptive bicycle and was accompanied by his business partner, Doug Hamlin –– himself a paraplegic –– plus his immediate and extended family, community members, cycling enthusiasts and New Yorkers of all abilities.

As the tour made its way across New York State, numerous advocacy groups and organizations supporting the rights of people with disabilities joined Robinson and Hamlin for portions of their Journey. On Monday morning, several individuals representing NYSID, its member agencies and New York State government entities joined John in the final leg of his Journey from Niskayuna through Colonie and ending in Albany.

NYSID presented Robinson, Hamlin and their families with a framed map, courtesy of NYS Canal Corporation, to commemorate the Journey Along the Erie Canal

Several New York State and local officials spoke during Monday’s closing ceremony, including:

  • Ron Romano, President & CEO, NYSID
  • Mayor Jerry Jennings, City of Albany
  • Assemblyman John McDonald III, 108th NYS Assembly District
  • Kathy Moser, Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Martin Daley, Project Director, Parks & Trails New York
  • Beth Sciumeca, Executive Director, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor
  • Brian Stratton, Director, NYS Canal Corporation

“On behalf of NYSID and our statewide membership, we congratulate John Robinson and his family for completing this inspirational Journey,” Romano said. “To borrow from Our Ability’s tagline –– Connect. Inspire. Achieve –– we are honored to help John connect with our communities, inspire New Yorkers with disabilities and help them achieve success.”

Paul Quirini, NYSID’s Outreach & Communications Specialist, emceed the closing ceremony.

The Journey represented a collaboration among NYSID, Our Ability, the New York State Canal Corporation, Parks & Trails New York and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Additional sponsorship was provided by SEFCU, Price Chopper and Goodwill Industries.

Our Ability chronicled the ride, providing daily video, blog, and social media updates, all while recording stories for a follow-up to the PBS documentary, “Get Off Your Knees: The John Robinson Story.” The winner of several awards, including the 2010 Telly Award, “Get Off Your Knees” has aired on more than 100 public broadcasting stations in the U.S., as well as six other countries around the world.

For more photos from Monday’s closing ceremony, visit: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.490625617680581.1073741833.146350902108056&type=1&l=52b47e265a


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