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A Tandem Tale – How A Vista Member Overcame Obstacles to Continue Cycling

Just one month ago, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center held their 5th Annual Tour de Shore, which is a 5, 25, 40 or 60 mile ride along Connecticut’s scenic shoreline. Although there were many amazing accomplishments that day, Vista would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of Vista member Kayla Jussim and her father Lee.

Kayla and Lee rode 40 miles at the Tour de Shore this year, which is an incredible feat in itself. Even more incredible, however, is the fact that they rode the 40 miles together on a tandem bike! Riding tandem bikes for long distances is nothing new for Kayla and Lee. They have been riding tandems for many years, since Kayla was about 12 years old. Kayla has always been adventurous, enjoying camping, fishing, hiking and cycling.

Certain activities such as cycling could be dangerous for Kayla, however, because she has seizures which can occur at any time. This makes riding any long distances on roads or trails too risky. Kayla’s experience riding tandem began when she went to visit her Uncle Todd, who took her out on his tandem bike. Her uncle decided to buy a tandem bike for Kayla and Lee, which was a great solution to overcoming Kayla’s obstacle. Although they can still fall down, Lee has learned how to maneuver a softer landing, which makes cycling long distances possible.

For Kayla and Lee, riding a tandem bike has been a great way to get some exercise, see beautiful and interesting places, and spend quality time together. In addition to participating in the Tour de Shore, the pair has done several multi-day bike rides including rides through Delaware and Amish Country of Pennsylvania. They have had many memorable experiences along theses journeys and have also enjoyed spotting wildlife such as eagles, herons, hawks, owls and turtles.

Being independent is very important to Kayla. Although she strives for independence every day, she recognizes that many of life’s major accomplishments, even personal ones, require teamwork. Riding 40 miles, especially over the hilly course of the Vista Tour de Shore is a significant accomplishment. In preparation for the Tour de Shore, Kayla, Lee and Kayla’s roommate Nicole, decided to ride 20 miles on the Air Line State Park Trail. Teamwork would prove to be important even during this practice ride. After getting everything packed and ready to go, one of the spokes on Kayla and Lee’s tandem bike broke, making it unable to ride. With the Tour de Shore coming up soon and a practice run in jeopardy, the group realized that they needed to act quickly. The nearest shop was Zanes, which happened to be a sponsor of the Tour de Shore. They brought the bike to Zanes and were shocked with how quickly their tandem had been fixed, allowing them to finally begin their practice ride.

 Although there were many challenges along the way, giving up was never an option for Kayla and Lee. They felt that participating in the Tour de Shore was a great way to give back to Vista, do something that they enjoy, and aim for a difficult goal. Kayla was also joined at the Tour de Shore by her brother and uncle, who provided her with encouragement and support. To Kayla, the ride reflected the best of what being independent means to her, playing a particular role in reaching a goal, in this case, with the support of a team.

Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization.  Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources on an individualized basis to assist adults with disabilities to live independent and successful lives. 

For more information regarding Vista, please visitwww.vistavocational.org

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