Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) is fortunate enough to work with super heroes every day: our volunteers. Among these “super heroes” is Mentor of the Year, Juan Botero. Juan was born in Colombia and lives in Cambridge, MA. He has been devoted to mentoring through PYD since 2009. His experiences have encouraged him to advocate for mentoring and disability awareness in Massachusetts and internationally. Thanks to support from Mass Mentoring Partnership, this was the fifth consecutive year that Juan led PYD’s team in the annual Rodman Ride for Kids.
Team PYD broke the mold with our inclusive team, led by our returning MVP Rider Juan, and mentee Dejan, who was the first blind rider to participate in the event – along with other members of the PYD community who were eager to put on their helmets and bike together to raise awareness and funds for PYD.
The Ride is a matching gift charity for social service agencies that support at-risk children in Massachusetts. Juan has been the only rider with a physical disability in this increasingly high-profile event, but this year, thanks to a donation of adaptive bikes from Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, PYD mentee Dejan joined him and became the first blind rider to participate. Dejan, inspired by Juan’s story, was motivated to ride a bike for the first time and take on the 25 mile route, using a tandem recumbent bicycle and a sighted guide. With aspirations to be a sports announcer and work in radio broadcasting, Dejan kept the team morale high as he enthusiastically called out for support of disability athletics to everyone we encountered along the ride route.
Juan was diagnosed with Ataxia over a decade ago, and over five years ago began using a wheelchair for greater mobility. Juan has hiked across the globe, with the use of assistive guides and cross-terrain wheelchairs. Such equipment enables him to continue following his passions for the outdoors and travel, including climbs to Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit and the bottom of the Grand Canyon. His goal is to encourage young people facing challenges: “For this reason I believe in Partners for Youth with Disabilities, and I became a mentor: because I hope I can share my strengths and my stories, and I can show that we can all climb Kilimanjaro in our own terms.”
Despite challenges, Team PYD demonstrated the heart and determination to aspire, achieve, and empower. Our team received overwhelming support from the Rodman Ride volunteers and other riders. Another unexpected level of support came from a local West Roxbury landscaping company. Erin Doheny of PYD explains, “I was beginning to get desperate for ideas of how to transport three large, adaptive recumbent bikes from our office in the South End to the Rodman Headquarters in Foxborough without having to spend money our team worked so hard to fundraise. The idea occurred to me to reach out to local landscaping businesses that might have access to a large truck to help with the transportation. My first call was to Lynch Landscaping; I left a hurried message explaining our situation and what our needs were. I was hoping at best that someone might return my call and have a suggestion for me about a low-cost truck rental. In what I can say is a true example of ‘the kindness of strangers,’ Mr. Lynch returned my call and went out of his way to loan us a dump truck to transport the bikes to Foxborough and back for free. He even had the truck cleaned for us and provided the gas! We couldn’t be more grateful that we stumbled across Lynch Landscaping’s website and that they shared their generosity with our team!”
Donations to Team PYD will be accepted through November 30th through the team page on the Rodman Ride website. All donations directly benefit PYD and receive a 10% from the Rodman Ride for Kids!
We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to volunteer, donate, and support PYD’s involvement in the Rodman Ride for Kids this year. We’re so proud of what our team has accomplished in the last 5 years participating in the Ride, and look forward to more inclusive bike rides in the future!
I am so very proud