SPORTS, FITNESS & DANCE

Disability is only in OUR heads

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Alexander Avdevich

Big journey with handcycle

My name is Alexander Avdevich and I am from Belarus.  The lower part of my body is paralyzed. I have a TH8-TH9 spinal cord injury. 6 years ago I was involved in a motorcycle crash as one Friday night my motorbike slipped over from under me and that moment turned my life upside down forever.   As I was going through recovery I faced how scarce rehabilitation possibilities  in my country are. I decided to impact the situation with rights of disabled people in Belarus. One of my first attempts to  change the situation was a rehabilitation sport room. I collected money and bought special trainers for people with paraplegia.

Traveling From Belarus to Portugal

My idea was to raise awareness among belarusian people with disabilities  about the importance of physical rehabilitation. Then I came with the idea about travelling from Belarus to Portugal on a handbike without any helpers. From one site I wanted to show my landmates with disabilities that even if you have more than half of your body paralyzed everything is still possible and encourage them to step out of their comfort zone. From the other side I wanted to challenge myself whether I am able of riding 4 000 kilometers  on my hands. Moreover I have never seen the ocean before, so I thought why not to travel to the ocean on my hands. I started my journey in June 2016. I wasn’t sure whether I am doing everything right as many people were saying that it is a ridiculous idea, but I knew that it was worth trying.

I have been blogging about the stages of my journey and as the journey progressed there were  more and more people from different countries who were interested in my adventure and supported me. I went through 14 countries, from Belarus to Portugal, seeing lots of new places and making lots of new friends. My journey has also become a subject in Belarusian media, and I received many responses from other disabled people that they feel aspired now and are also opt to try new things. Such a feedback definitely gave me power not to quit. I have reached the ocean by the end of September.

Everything is Possible

Firstly I couldn't believe that I have made it. But realization comes with time as well as belief in your own abilities. One more thing the journey gave me was my girlfriend.  I met her in Hamburg as I was passing through Germany. She was one of my journey’s followers. Our first meeting was something special for both of us and I am very happy I met this girl. Since my Europe trip I have participated in different bike tours across countries. I plan to broaden my biking map, as there are definetely thousands of places to be explored by handbikers. With my example I want to show people with disabilities and people without any that everything is possible, you just need to leave your comfort zone and try.

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