fbpx skip to Main Content

Shivers, Omeo a big part of El Tour de Tucson: ‘Accessibility matters’

Sam Shivers will be riding 32 miles in Saturday’s El Tour de Tucson. He’ll be joined by more than 2,000 cyclists in that specific ride.

But what’s inspiring about Shivers is that he’ll be riding those miles a year after just riding in the 5-mile Fun Ride.

And, oh, he’ll be on a recumbent, using his hands-only cycle. The big jump in miles didn’t scare him.

Inspiring indeed.

Sam Shivers

“I want to stay active, and I want to improve my fitness,” he said. “The mental aspect of the workouts is so important to me. Because afterwards after I work out, I’m exhausted. But I’m so peaceful. It’s just amazing. It’s also being part of the community. I don’t ride by myself.”

And he won’t be alone on Saturday, either. He’ll be joined by a group of about 97 cyclists who will be riding under the umbrella of Omeo and its cycling team, which helps support Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports, which is under the direction of Mia Hansen. They’ll be on the road riding various lengths to help support their causes and stay involved. The Omeo presence will include the Wounded Warrior team and Splendido Retirement community. There will be 30 hand cyclists and the rest adaptive cyclists.

“We’ve tried to grow our team and community presence,” said Amber Russell, Omeo Community Development Lead. “Our goal is to strengthen the size of the Omeo Adaptive Cycling Team. El Tour has taken leadership in bringing accessibility making this possible. There is no other like it. There is no other race like it that brings that together. We wanted to honor their efforts by bringing in more adaptive riders each year.”

It’s easy for Russell to say why they are involved: “Accessibility matters.”

“We want to show the athleticism of our adaptive athletes,” she said. “What does that more than the large impact of a nearly 100 person cycling team? To see them riding with those jerseys is pretty impactful.”

The more the merrier.

“We are all riding together (figuratively) and we’re all trying to overcome the restrictions we have,” Shivers said.

Shivers is affected by neurosarcoidosis, a disease that attacked his spinal chord in August of 2020. It ended up severing his spinal chord, making him a paraplegic.

In stepped Omeo, who was with the program last year as well. It is a proud partner with and support organizations that are helping others go further through adaptive sports. According to their website, they are active partners with Mobility Access Partners of California, as well as the Spinal Network serving Southern California. And Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports, who is working tirelessly to support the Tucson community through adaptive experiences and sports activities.

Being part of the Omeo family helps those with disabilities with “a sense of community and shared experiences. And there’s a shared encouragement of overcoming adversity,” Shivers said. “We all have shared some horror stories. For people who are handicapped or how I like to say it ‘differently disabled’ we share stories that are really heartbreaking experiences, but we all tend to laugh about them (too) and its impact of that community that we lift each other up. It’s really the energizing factor.”