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Macomb Township

Local handcyclist to take 220-miles for charity

July 29, 2009

Paralympics not a far cry for 15-year-old

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — London, 2012.

That’s the ultimate goal for 15-year-old Adam Rose, a Macomb Township resident and Eisenhower High School student who took up handcycling at the age of  7.

He was disabled from the waist down at the age of 4, after being diagnosed with leukemia and suffering a neurotoxin reaction caused by a spine-injected treatment. But his father, Don Rose, said his son has been nothing but positive and accepting of challenges ever since.

In 2012, Rose hopes to compete for the U.S. handcycling team in the Paralympics, two weeks after the summer Olympics in London.

In the meantime, Rose spends his time training in local marathons and charity trips like the Independence Ride, a four-day, 220-mile ride from Holland to Ann Arbor. It starts Aug. 6, and so far, he’s raised nearly $1,000.

“We raised $188 just in candy bar sales,” he joked, alongside best friend Ben Dufour, 15.

The money will benefit the Disability Network of Michigan and Center for Independent Living. Not to mention, the I-Ride is tons of fun, the Roses agreed.

Rose started racing his handcycle at 12 years old. He won first place last September in the Brooksie Way Half Marathon and second place that same month in the Air Force Marathon in Lansing.

Now his buddy Dufour wants to race — but he’ll do it on a standard bicycle, alongside Rose, his father and mother Lori Rose, in the three-year-old “I-Ride” next month.

“Adam is the reason I’m doing this,” Defour said. He got his bike this year and says he’s already trained for 70 miles in a day. Although the two are on different teams — Rose for team “Fusion” and Defour for team “Wolverine” — the ride is not competitive and all the money goes toward the same place.

The two make fun of Don’s bike: a recumbent, reclining-style bicycle. But Don argues that it’s more comfortable on his back and neck, and 220 miles doesn’t faze him when he’s riding it.

Rose said when he races his dad he likes to think of it as a “slaughter match.”

Don smiled and shook his head in disagreement.

Mom, Lori Rose, has a 27-speed “trike.” She said when the three of them ride around the neighborhood together, they “get some strange looks.” But she doesn’t care.

“We all love it,” she continued. “It’s just something nice we can all do together.”

In the I-Ride, cyclists will ride in legs totaling 60 miles a day for four days. Last year, the Roses joined at the last minute, unable to collect any donations. This year, Don said, they’re making up for it.

Bicyclists, wheelchair-cyclists and handcyclists can ride. In the 2008 I-Ride, there were about 10 handcyclists and about 20 standard cyclists. By the fourth day, there were only two handcyclist left, and Rose was one of them. His mentor and the organizer of the I-Ride, Glen Ashlock, was the other.

“The first day I was thinking, ‘This is pretty easy,’” Rose said of last year’s I-Ride. “By the third day, I was hurting. The other cyclists got me through it.”

“It was the most fun we had all summer,” said his dad. But he admitted, when they first registered, knowing how challenging the ride is, he never thought his son could do it. “He exceeds my expectations every time.”

Being disabled at the age of 4, Rose said, he’s never known anything different. He doesn’t ever remember walking, so things one might assume would be an everyday challenge for him, like going up and down stairs, really aren’t.

From using his arms to help get around for the past 11 years, playing wheelchair basketball and training on his handcycle regularly, Rose’s upper body is all muscle and his arms are solid. He has no doubt he’ll make it to the Paralympics one day.

“I like a challenge,” he concluded.

His bike — an orange, 27-speed, $3,200 racing handcycle — was a gift from his parents. Its carbon-pressure wheels were bought with the assistance of a grant. And thanks to the state-of-the-art equipment, Rose got up to 35 mph on the Ambassador Bridge during the 5K Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon last year.

To donate in Adam Rose’s name for the I-Ride Aug. 6, visit or e-mail him at for information on where to send a check. All donations are tax-deductible.


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