Harvey Dawkins astounds me. Stricken by cerebral palsy that affects his legs and arms in particular since birth, he rides his bike around the United States to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, Downs Syndrome and autism.
He works over 40 hours a week and is also in full training to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics.
His ultimate goal, other than raising more money for diseases and afflictions not his own, is to complete a full Ironman.
In a world of false idols and heroes, here’s a guy that lays it on the line and lives for other people. I’m very proud that Harvey is one of my sponsored athletes and that he’s making great gains under CrankPunk Coaching Systems.
I’ll leave it to Harvey to tell you a bit more about himself and what he is doing and why.
I get asked a lot about why I am helping people with another disease rather than working for cerebral palsy.
A friend of mine that I work with got MS. She had to stop working, she went blind and couldn’t stand up and it was messing her up. I got CP and my joints hurt but MS kills people. So when I see people with MS I get very emotional and I consider myself lucky.
I believe we are all out here on this earth to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and to help our fellow man. I do speaking engagements and I always say imagine if one person helped another, and then that person helped someone else. It doesn’t have to be big, it can be anything but it can all make a difference.
I’m not special, I’m just sensitive to other people’s feelings.
It’s pretty simple.
My Grandfather was my hero, he always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do. He was a rock. He would say something and he’d blow you away. He really had it together.
I’m also focusing on Downs Syndrome and on autism through the triathlon stuff.
I had CP from when I was a kid, I was born with it.
I started cycling when I was 4 or 5, I got on a tricycle and found it was easier for me to ride than it was to walk. Then I got into big wheels and learnt how to ride a bike and man, I loved that bike, it was all gold and I used to go everywhere on that bike.
I felt like all the other kids when I was on that thing.
That bike was freedom, you know?
When I got older I watched the Tour de France in the 80s and I saw these amazing road bikes and so, I saved my money and I was cutting grass all summer to save up. When I got it, my Mom was like “You spent $800 on a freakin’ bike?”
I said “Mom this is aluminum! It’s amazing!”
I still have that bike, it’s a fixie now. I love that thing.
I got into triathlons because about three years ago I got divorced, and I didn’t want that year to be just my ‘divorce year.’
So my girlfriend at the time, Nancy, now my wife, encouraged me to do something I had always wanted to, and it was a triathlon. So my local bike shop let me use a TT bike and I’ve been using it ever since.
So I did four triathlons that year. I’d never done anything like that in my life. I took a negative and made it a positive.
My first tri I almost drowned! I was in this lake and I just couldn’t get it going, the water was dark and horrible. This lifeguard came over to rescue me and I thought ‘No, I can do this.’
So I did, I got out the water, I was the last one, and as I got out I kept falling down, my legs didn’t work. People were getting real concerned cos I was in a heap. But I was just trying to make it to my bike cos I knew that if I could get there I would be alright.
[We break for a moment, because we both have lumps in our throats.]
I didn’t have the right equipment or nothing.
But they said I caught half the pack on the bike ride.
Finally after all this time I have just about everything I need, bike, wheels from Blktec, helmet and a suit, but my shoes are beat up to hell but yeah, I finally have all the stuff.
The ultimate goal is to do an Ironman but I have to do a lot of stuff before then, like some Olympic tris. I just do sprints now really, so I have to increase the distances.
And there’s the Paralympics in 2016, that’s the other big one.
I’m never gonna stop riding my bike. I tease Nancy and I always tell her that if it’s time for me to go and I’m 80, I want to go on my bike. That sounds a bit sick maybe but it’s true!
Harvey has his own page on GoFundMe which you can access here.