Handcycling becoming a welcome staple of the ClassicCotie Williams
Matt McLeod, Redlands Daily Facts Redlands Daily Facts
REDLANDS — It took months for Delmon Dunston to feel human again.
The 33-year-old Riverside native will never forget the moment that first changed his life.
The date was July 14, 2000, and Dunston was wrestling at a local gym when he shattered his C6 vertebra. It was an
injury that would leave him unable to walk ever again.
Cooped up inside his house, stuck inside a wheelchair he’d grown to hate, it wasn’t until his mom, Pat Hardy, showed
him that he was far from helpless that Dunston decided to venture back out into the world, chair and all.
As it turned out, that was the second moment that changed his life.
“She sat in one of the regular chairs and just started to wash clothes and make the bed, and I guess I just realized
there was a lot I could still do,” Dunston said.
Thanks to PossAbilities, a major sponsor of the annual Redlands Bicycle Classic, Dunston and other disabled locals
not only have a support group, but they have a passion and sense of direction to boot.
Developed by the Loma Linda University Medical Center, PossAbilities is a community outreach program designed
to help disabled people transition back into healthy, productive lives.
The Team PossAbilities handcycling outfit that will take part in this year’s Classic is another example of what the
organization strives to accomplish.
Dunston will join Carrie Finale and Owen Daniels on the squad, as the handcycling trio aims to meet the time
qualifications need to make the U.S. Paralympics Team.
For Daniels, an H2 classification racer who was paralyzed during a car wreck two years ago, becoming a part of the
disabled sports community has given him a new family – one whose bonds have been forged through common
“There’s this big group of us that all knows each other,” Daniels said. “We’ve all been through this same kind of
journey and we feel like we’re on this ride together.”
The Classic’s marketing director, Scott Welsh, said that it isn’t only some benevolent sense of charity that drives the
event organizers to make sure the handcyclists feel right at home.
The athletes are also welcome because they provide the Classic with memorable performances.
“When it comes down to it, handcycling is a fascinating event to watch,” Welsh said. “These are some amazing
athletes, and this has really grown into the second-largest and second-most prestigious handcycling event in the
And the support from the community has followed suit, which is something guys like Daniels have appreciated.
“This is only the fifth year that they’ve had handcyclists, and every year our attendance has doubled,” Daniels said.
“It’s awesome to see that people are genuinely excited to come out for us.”
Dunston, an H1 racer, said the handcycling showcases will give able-bodied people the chance to see that the
disabled athletes are really able-bodied themselves – just in different ways.
“The first time you go out in a chair, you realize it’s like TV – everybody’s watching,” Dunston said. “But once
people get used to it, they see that there’s these athletes living out their lives doing amazing things.”