Hand-cyclist Rich Dixon is coming through Gainesville Saturday wrapping up his 1,000-mile journey across Florida.
Dixon, a Colorado resident, is raising awareness for Convoy of Hope, an organization providing disaster response, hunger relief and community outreach around the world. Dixon has been riding across Florida proving that being handicapped doesn’t have to be a disability.
Dixon said he’s always dreamed of doing a cross-country ride, realizing he was able to accomplish his dream and share it by helping others.
“I believe when you chase a dream it ought to be about something more than just you and your own personal things,” he said.
Dixon discovered Convoy of Hope through his church, and decided to partner with the organization because of its contributions to hurricane relief in Florida.
He doesn’t solicit, but people have contributed generously in the past. Although, he said he doesn’t have expectations on the amount of donations they’ll receive because it isn’t about the money.
“However much money we raise, I believe that God will use it in a huge way,” he said.
His strong faith in God has had a huge impact on his injury recovery and helping him find his identity.
In December 1987, Dixon fell off a roof while installing Christmas lights, damaging his spinal cord and leaving him paralyzed in both legs. A concerned friend introduced him to hand cycling in 1999 to help Dixon get active.
“The first time I got on I couldn’t wait to do it again,” he said.
Dixon said besides raising awareness, his journey reflects his own self-discovery through strong Christian faith and acceptance of his injury. He uses his accomplishments to prove to himself and others that life is not just about image, and he is more than just a wheelchair.
He biked over 25,000 miles in many locations across the country, riding along the Mississippi river in 2011 in response to the destructive tornadoes that passed through the area.
When people look in the mirror, they tend to see their failures, limitations and mistakes first, Dixon said. Instead people need to see themselves as possibilities, opportunities and abilities.
“We’re not our limitations. That’s not how we ought to define ourselves,” he said.
This summer Dixon plans to ride over 400 miles around the Colorado Rockies and is planning more for Florida.
Audreyanna Loguerre wrote this story online.