It's another way Peter Iannuzzi battles cerebral palsy. First he puts on his riding gloves, straps a helmet to his head, checks his bag, puts one foot on the pedal, and he's off! With his suit of armor on, Peter will be one of two thousand bikers riding across Georgia this weekend, but he'll be the only one with cerebral palsy. " I want to show people what a disabled person can do," explained Peter.
He's been doing just that since he was ten, when he rode his first bicycle and never looked back. Peter's taken three long distance cycling bike trips across Tennessee, and even pedaled from Atlanta to Boston. But Peter doesn't do it for personal glory or trophies. He does it, just to prove that he can. He wants people to see having cerebral palsy doesn't make him different. " To prove to them that disabled people need to be treated normally as others would want to be treated," he exclaimed.
His bike never leaves his side. He lovingly refers to her as Dolly, named after his 98 year old grandmother who died a few years ago. Peter averages 30 to 40 miles on Dolly per day, riding through Savannah. And he never meets a stranger he didn't automatically greet as a friend.
But Peter's ride hasn't come without some bumps along the way. Many people told him he couldn't physically handle the long distance rides. A few years ago, he was hit by a car. Recently, he suffered a violent neck spasm that pinched his spinal cord while riding. But Peter doesn't let that slow him down. "Everyone told me three to six months until I could get back on my bike," said Peter, "But I waited six weeks. I went out and rode seven miles. My doctor just went nuts!" he laughed.
He hopes others will also see how far he's come, and remember it's a journey anyone can make, disability or not." It's just incredible how much I can do. It's not that I can do it, it's that I want to do it," said Peter.
Peter's journey will begin this Saturday in Columbus, Georgia, and will end a week later, June 16th, in Daffin Park. Peter is also training for a long distance ride across North Carolina in the fall, and working to bring a chapter of the United Cerebral Palsy Organization to Savannah in the near future.