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Amputees Across America in Poughkeepsie

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The 2005 Amputees Across America bike trip is scheduled to travel through Poughkeepsie New York on Saturday, August 6th. A reception will be held at 2 pm at The Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and the Home of FDR National Historic Site in Hyde Park New York. A bike ride from the FDR Library to the Vanderbilt Mansion and back is scheduled at 11 am. The public is welcome to attend and participate in either event. Pre-registration is required by contacting Nancy at 914-466-4945. Hope that you can make it.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library

4079 Albany Post Road

Hyde Park, New York 12538



With the number of amputees increasing nationwide due to an explosion of diabetes cases, as well as injuries to America’s armed forces, three amputees are determined to show the nation that physical disabilities don’t have to stop individuals from living life to its fullest.

Below-knee amputees Jim DeLong, Joe Sapere, and Bill Vanover are bicycling 4,300 miles from San Diego, California, to Boston, Massachusetts, over the course of 70 days as part of Amputees Across America (AAA). During the course of the ride, they are stopping and visiting rehabilitation centers, several Shriners Children’s Hospitals and a Veterans hospital to encourage amputees and others with physical challenges not to give up. The goal of Amputees Across America, which is celebrating its fourth year, is to deliver resource information to amputees, to establish a nationwide peer support network and to deliver messages of hope and inspiration.

The visits to hospitals and rehab centers occur regularly throughout the AAA trip. The riders share their experiences with welcoming groups as well as interact one-on-one with patients and staff. With good humor and positive attitudes, the three men hope to demonstrate that amputees can be as active as they want to be…and have plenty of fun along the way.

Amputees Across America was founded in 2001 by Retired Air Force colonel and elementary teacher, Joe Sapere. Sapere, 64, become an amputee due to a skydiving accident in 2000. AAA’s first transcontinental bicycle and skydiving tour was in 2002 and has impacted numerous lives every summer since. Sapere is dedicated to demonstrating to amputees that life can improve despite amputations.

“Amputees Across America is ultimately an outreach program, instead of a bike ride,” said Sapere. “If we can change one life through this trip or at each visitation, it makes the whole ride worthwhile.”

Army veteran Jim DeLong, 54, participated in the 2003 cross country trip, but his second trip won’t be quite the same. DeLong survived a severe motorcycle accident during the summer of 2004. His injuries required surgical reconstruction of one hip and various other surgeries. After intensive rehabilitation and physical therapy, DeLong, who lost his left leg below the knee in Vietnam from a land mine, is geared up for the challenges and joys of the road again.

“In 2003, everywhere we went, we’d by stopped by someone who would want to talk with us,” said DeLong. Unexpected stops at shopping plazas, gas stations and even along the road were some of the most satisfying to DeLong. “People all over the country have connections to an amputee…it could be a family member, a friend, a coworker. They love to see what we’re doing with this trip and want to talk with us.”

Bill Vanover is excited about being part of the 2005 AAA trip. Vanover, 44, has been a below-knee amputee since 1982 when a tractor severed his left foot in an on-the-job accident. While in the hospital for his amputation, Vanover had an unexpected visit from a man he’d never met. This meeting proved inspirational to Vanover as the visitor, an active outdoorsman, was a bilateral amputee.

“This man has no idea of the impact he had on my life,” shared Vanover. “Although I never even got his name, I’ve never forgotten him. I hope to offer the same encouragement to other amputees during the ride.” For more information about Amputees Across America, or to follow the riders along their journey via the Internet, visit http://www.amputeesacrossamerica.com .


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How fortunate you were that they travelled through your neck of the woods, and you got to meet them, Johnny!!

It certainly looked like a great day, and I'm glad that you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing your pic. B)

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It looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing the picture.

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Bikers in thier fourth trip

HYDE PARK - In their fourth trip across the nation, the three members of Amputees Across America (AAA) are doing much more than simply bike riding 4,300 miles in the heat of the summer. They are networking with support groups across the country and getting the message out that amputee does not mean inactive.

The bicycle group has helped many people through their travels, including 16-year-old Luke Myers of Colorado Springs, Colo. Myers is a below-the-knee amputee resulting from a car accident in 2002, in which he was hit by an impaired driver. Doctors tried to save his leg, waiting 11 months before finally amputating in May of 2003.

One short month later, Myers' life would be changed when he came into contact with the Amputees Across America on a stop in Colorado during their second bike trip.

"They came through in June. It was a good experience; it changed my outlook on things, seeing there is another life after an amputation," Myers said.

In 2004, Myers joined the bike tour as a youth rider for two weeks. He enjoyed it so much he decided to return, this time from Redding, Pennsylvania to Boston.

"It's a big part of my summer. It was worth it to do it again," Myers said.

Joe Sapere, a 64-year-old retired Air Force colonel and elementary teacher, founded the AAA program in 2001 to have just this kind of impact.

Sapere said each of the four trips has taken a different route across the country, constantly bringing the group into contact with new people.

During the trip, the riders have stopped at numerous hospitals and rehab centers, Shriners Children's Hospitals and a veterans' hospital to encourage amputees and others with physical challenges not to give up.

News of the journey has traveled along with the riders, with television crews and newspapers following their activities.

"It's surprising how far the coverage is," Sapere said. "We've talked to a lot of people along the road."

Ride through Hyde Park

On Saturday morning, Aug. 6, the riders took off from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, with the company of a number of guest riders.

John Vacca, a regional representative for the Amputee Coalition from America based in Poughkeepsie, organized several amputees to participate in the event.

Adam Lawlor from Clinton Corners decided to participate despite a lack of experience riding.

"I haven't had a bike since I was a teenager," Lawlor said.

Erik Tompkins of Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates and M and M Prosthetic Associates said he entered the field of prosthetics when a friend of his lost a leg in Vietnam. He was looking forward to the ride.

"It's such an adrenaline rush to be out here and see what these guys can do," Tompkins said.

The riders traveled 4.5 miles along back roads to the Vanderbilt Mansion and back to the FDR home along Route 9.

A reception was held at the Wallace Center, which included information from amputee advocates about New York State prosthetic parity efforts, which would make coverage of prosthetics equal to that of other physical illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease.

Tompkins said the type of prosthetics the riders use would not be covered in full by insurance companies.

The 4,300-mile journey came to a close on Wednesday, Aug. 10 when the riders wound up in Braintree, Mass.

For more information about a local amputee support group, visit www.amputee-coalition.org.

To find out more about AAA, visit the Web site www.amputeesacrossamerica.org.

©Hyde Park Townsman 2005

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I've followed these riders each year through their website. Even exchanged some emails and got a poster from them that was framed and hung on the wall of of my physical therapy center.

But geeeez, I wish someone would design them some new and better looking jerseys. :rolleyes:

Hey MJ... you up for the task???

Kep B)

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