On October 22, 2006, Abe and a group of friends decided to go for a ride on their motorcycles and enjoy the rest of their day in the Santa Cruz mountains. What was to be a normal and routine day of fun with friends soon became a day that would change the course of his life forever. Abe, while riding, fell off his bike and had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital. He had sustained spinal damage, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Not being able to walk, Abe had to relearn the many basic tasks that so many of us take for granted. Grooming. Preparing meals. Navigating the outside world from the vantage point of a wheelchair along with the secondary conditions from the spinal cord injury he suffered made Abe’s life even more challenging.
With treatment options bleak, it was easy to lose hope and soak in the daily frustrations of living in a world designed and tailored for the walking. Abe, who had always been athletically inclined, chose not to let his disability stop him and began looking for different avenues to keep active and fit — both physically and mentally. With the help of the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), Abe has been able to channel his challenges and energy into a newfound hobby: arm cycling.
BORP, located in Berkeley, California, is a haven for those looking to find alternative ways of remaining active despite their disabilities. Their philosophy is that disabled individuals who have access to recreation and camaraderie will be more successful in other avenues of life. BORP’s mission and work is backed up by their own statistics, showing that:
- Over 95% of participants have graduated from high school in the past ten years.
- Over 80% either have university degrees or are currently in college.
- Over 80% are employed.
BORP not only offers cycling but other adaptive sports such as: power soccer, adult and youth wheelchair basketball, and goalball. There’s also its veterans outreach programs — a collaboration with the Veterans Affair’s in which they work with disabled veterans and provide instructions on how to participate in the featured sports and go about acquiring personal adaptive equipments. Reading the testimonials of the participants, one can truly see the power this organization has had in transforming people’s lives.
Abe began his interest in arm cycling with BORP in 2014, and now, he’s able to complete 30 mile rides in a day! The transformation he noticed both physically and mentally inspired him, leading to his volunteering and his current position as a cycling assistant with BORP. JURNI was so inspired by the work of BORP and of Abe’s life story that we gifted them an iPod to chronicle their own JURNIs. You can follow Abe on JURNI and be a part of his work at BORP. Feel free to share your own inspiration and story with him as well.