SHELBY TOWNSHIP — This summer, a 19-year-old Shelby Township resident will get on his bike for four days, riding 240 miles from St. Joseph to Ann Arbor.
But Adam Rose, a mechanical engineering major at Kettering University in Flint and a 2012 graduate of Henry Ford II High School, won’t be putting his feet on the pedals.
Instead, he uses his hands.
When Adam was just a young child, a cancer treatment left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“When I was four, I had a reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs they gave me because I have leukemia,” he said.
A half-dozen years later, Adam said his dad, Don Rose, took him up to watch the Crim Festival of Races in Flint. Both of Adam’s parents were running in the race. But before the start, Don took Adam over to the start of the race to see the handcyclists and wheelchair racers gearing up for the competition.
“I thought that was pretty cool,” Adam said. “Later that year, I got a handcycle and I just started riding it and going, having a good time.
“A year later, he entered me in that race and … within a year, I was doing a marathon and moving on to bigger and better things.”
“I had no idea how fast he would take off with the sport,” Don said. “I had no idea he would be doing it (the 10-mile Crim race) the next year. He just got better and better; he won the Detroit Free Press Marathon at 16.”
Adam was also the youngest ever to compete in the Detroit Free Press Marathonz at age 12. His other achievements include winning the U.S. Air Force Marathon and the Akron Marathon.
Now, for the sixth time, the Roses are raising money for IRide, the annual Great Lakes Independence Ride. Through it, the Roses are raising money for the Disability Network of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living. The 240-mile ride will start Aug. 1 in St. Joseph, Mich., and finish Aug. 4 in Ann Arbor.
The Center for Independent Living helps those with all kinds of disabilities, Adam said, to find jobs, get living accommodations and help with everyday aspects of life.
“I’m more fortunate than others, but it’s nice to see that there’s opportunities for them to have a life they can enjoy and be able to do things,” he said.
The center also offers fun classes, like bowling and handcycle clinics.
“They’re really supportive of the disability community,” he said.
Training has never been so difficult for Adam, who said living on Kettering University’s campus and going to school cuts into the time he has to prepare.
“Ever since I started college, it’s actually been a lot tougher to find time to train because it’s more demanding, more work,” he said. “Since I’m home for the summer, I’m going to try to get a couple more months of training.”
Adam said he heads to Stony Creek Metropark four or five times each week to put as many miles as he can on his handcycle, a three-wheeled bike custom built for him. He said he tries to put at least 30 miles behind him during practice to simulate a day in the ride.
Don and Lori Rose both ride with Adam and the 50 or 60 other riders that participate in the IRide each year.
“It’s the endurance of doing 60, 65 miles a day,” Don said. “You’re going through the middle of Michigan and there’s some pretty big hills to climb.”
Adam said he loves working to meet his goals.
“It is a challenge — there’s times when you don’t think you can do it — but it’s that challenge that I love,” he said. “It’s not only a personal challenge, but you’re feeling good because you’re raising all this money and you know it’s going to a good cause.”
Like every year, the Rose family’s goal is to exceed the minimum fundraising amount needed to ride, which is $750 for all three of them. And then on Aug. 1, they’ll hit the road — Adam on his handcycle, Don on a recumbent bike and Lori on a regular bicycle.
Donations are welcome at Adam Rose’s fundraising page at www.firstgiving.com. Search for Adam Rose’s 2013 IRide page. Donations can also be sent in a check made out to IRide to Adam Rose, 15025 Ardley Hall Court, Shelby Township, MI 48315.
There will be a fundraiser for Rose’s efforts from 8-10 p.m. June 28 at Total Sports, 40501 Production Drive, in Harrison Township. Supporters can pay $15 for the wallyball and euchre party, which includes pizza and pop. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org in advance for more information.
Since Adam was paralyzed at such a young age, he said a handcycle is the only bike he’s ever ridden.
“My parents had just bought me one of those red tricycles, but I’d never actually ridden it,” he said.
“I don’t know anything else.”
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