The Rodman Ride for Kids is three weeks from tomorrow, and Mass Mentoring is one of the agencies to benefit from this annual fundraising event. We are lucky to have several mentoring programs riding with the MMP team, including mentor Juan Martin Botero from Partners for Youth with Disabilities. Juan’s story is incredibly inspiring.
Originally from Colombia, Juan has been a Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) mentor for more than three years.
Juan says he mentors because “I hope the kids have gotten from me as much as I have learned and am learning from them.”
He elaborates, “For example my mentee, Eric, recently introduced me to sled hockey. It is something completely new and amazing. Now I want to do it, seeing him, who has been practicing it for the past two years. It made me want to jump on the ice…But I would never have become interested in this if it was not for him. And that is what I hope I can give him eventually.”
Diagnosed with ataxia over a decade ago, Juan has continued to lead an active lifestyle in spite of the physical challenges brought on by this neurological dysfunction. Ataxia has affected Juan’s gross motor coordination, so he now uses adaptive equipment, including a wheelchair, to maximize his mobility. This enables him to continue following his passion for the outdoors.
Juan’s recent athletic accomplishments include a climb to Mt. Kilamanjaro’s summit and one to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, to name a few. An adaptive recumbent bike, the Greenspeed Tadpole, is his vehicle of choice for cycling training and racing, as well as his daily commute.
Juan recently made a presentation to PYD’s Making Healthy Connections group in Boston about his travel, participation in sports, and the importance of staying fit. He pointed out that because of his disability, it’s especially important for him to keep fit to stay healthy, as it is with others. He presented slides from all of his impressive athletic feats and shared his passion for sports and physical activity with the group. The youth were thrilled to see and hear about all of his accomplishments, and benefited from his positive attitude towards challenging oneself physically even—and especially—with a disability.
As part of Mass Mentoring’s team, Juan has competed twice in the Rodman Ride for Kids to benefit PYD. Last year, intense training paid off, and he finished the 25 mile race in 3:20, nearly twice as fast as his minimum goal. This year, Juan will ride 25 miles again to raise funds and awareness for the need for mentors for youth with disabilities. If you would like to make a donation to support Juan’s ride and his charity of choice, Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD), please donate here.
If you would like more information on PYD, please go to www.pyd.org. We hope to see Juan, other riders with and without disabilities, and all of our supporters at the Rodman Ride again on September 24 in Foxboro!