Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 09-20-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | SEPTEMBER 20-26, 2018 CUMBERLAND 23 CUMBERLAND – When Donna Furlong became paralyzed two decades ago, she never imagined she'd ride a bicycle again. She once enjoyed cruising along the East Bay Bike Path with her husband, Bob, coasting through Bristol with their two small children strapped onto the backs of their bicycles. This summer, Furlong experienced the freedom and independence of cycling for the first time since 1997, the year she was paralyzed after she experienced a loss of oxygen to her spine during surgery. On June 5, Furlong, of Rehoboth, Mass., participated in an acces- sible cycling event hosted by the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Blackstone River Bikeway Ambassadors program and Northampton, Mass.-based nonprofit All Out Adventures. "It was freeing," Furlong said of getting back on a bicycle. "I felt very independent to the point where, after the ride, I said, I have to look into this." Unfortunately, "anything having to do with accessibility or medical issues is expensive," Furlong said, includ- ing the bicycle she would require, a handcycle with an adjustable seat that requires the user to peddle with their hands. Soon after, Blackstone Heritage Corridor volunteer coordinator Suzanne Buchanan was catching up with Blackstone Valley Paddle Club volunteer Bob Webster, who men- tioned that his wife, Cheryl, had an accessible handcycle that she did not use much anymore. "He asked me about it and since it had been sitting in our basement for a few years with me thinking I'd ride it again someday, I said I'd be happy to have her ride it for the rest of the sea- son," said Cheryl Webster, a 28-year resident of Cumberland. Webster acquired the bike after a similar trial on the East Bay Bike Path about 15 years ago, with help from a grant funded by BIKE-ON. "I loved being able to be outdoors, moving under my own power and not in my wheelchair," Webster said. Webster was diagnosed with mul- tiple sclerosis at age 22, requiring a wheelchair by age 25. "I thought I would not have a life," Webster said. "I came to the conclu- sion that the only way to have a life was to give something to others. I just didn't know what that would be, because it seemed like I had nothing." She had a bachelor's degree, and later discovered speech language pathology when she went through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. From there, she earned a master's degree in that field and has worked as a speech language pathologist since, most recently at McCourt Middle School. "I firmly believe my chosen career picked me up and carried me through my life," said Webster. "As for loaning the bike to Donna … it was just some- thing I could do for someone else. That's what we're here for." "It worked out perfectly," Furlong said. The handcycle was the exact model of accessible bicycle that she needed. While Webster and Furlong were strangers a few months ago, the women said their friendship is just get- ting started. "We met when she came to try out the handcycle and found we had a lot in common, although she is much younger than me," Webster said. "We found out we had a lot of the same issues with accessibility." She said she hopes the bike opens up other opportunities for Furlong, as it did for her. After her first ride on the East Bay Bike Path, Webster cycled all of the local routes, through the neighborhood, on to Lincoln and Bristol, and east to the Cape Cod Canal and Cape Cod National Seashore. She eventually acquired a ramp van that opened up the possibil- ity of riding something motorized. Today, she zips around in an electric tricycle that she can take on bike Cumberland woman shares gift of accessible cycling By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze Staff Writer BOB and DONNA FURLONG, of Rehoboth, Mass., left, with BOB and CHERYL WEBSTER of Cumberland, pictured together the night they met. Webster has loaned Furlong her accessible tricycle, giving her the chance to cycle with her family as she did before she became paralyzed in 1997. See CYCLING, Page 32 Island Woods Performance "2!+%3 s %8(!534 s %.').% #/-054%2 $)!'./34)#3 42!.3-)33)/. s !54/ 2%0!)2 42!),%2 ()4#(%3 7)2).' $OUGLAS 0IKE 3MITHlELD (401) 349-4644 Sales & Installation & Financing Available We are an authorized SNO-WAY Dealer PLOWS ARE IN-STOCK! call now for special Promotions To Our Valued Patients WE'VE MOVED! We moved our CUMBERLAND office! But don't worry, we didn't move far. 175 Nate Whipple Highway, Suite 107 Cumberland, RI 02864 401-333-0680 3450 Mendon Road Cumberland, RI 02864 401-658-1500 Next to Supreme Pizza Walk-In Humidor Hand-Rolled Cigars Large Selection of Vapes & E-Juice Follow us on smokershavenri OPEN 7 DAYS 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. Walk-In Humidor Walk-In Humidor Grand Opening Friday, September 21st 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. Free E-Juice Sampling at Fairlawn Golf Course Golf & Pub OPEN TO THE public 3HERMAN !VENUE ,INCOLN 2) s s FAIRLAWNGOLFCOURSEcom The Perfect Season to Play Music on the Patio Saturday, September 22nd 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. Mike Coletta Sunday, September 23rd 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Mike Perella FOOTBALL at 8:30 p.m. Come watch the game with us!

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