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Nov 15, 2011

Paraplegic to ride across Belize

In May of 2009, paraplegic, Jerome Flores set out on a long but fruitful eighty five mile journey from Corozal Town to Belize City. Then in June of last year, he got on his bike and hand pedaled seventy-two miles along the Western Highway from the old capital to San Ignacio. Flores will continue his ride across Belize at six on Friday morning from Belmopan to over-the-top in St Margaret’s Village. The ride through the Hummingbird Highway will continue to Dangriga at seven on Saturday morning. In continuing his ride, this year Flores partnered with Oceana to increase awareness on two topical issues in Belize and to raise funds for BAPDA. Oceana and Flores briefed the media on the collaboration and Reef Ride 2011 set for Friday:

Audrey Matura Shepherd, Vice President, Oceana

Audrey Matura Shepherd

“Mr. Flores approached us if we would sponsor his ride because he wasn’t getting response from other people. We were very glad to do it because as we spoke we realized we had a lot in common. He is trying to bring attention to a very important national issue and that is, a lot of people with disability. I mean sometime we go about pretending it couldn’t happen to us. He had the use of all his faculties and he had an accident and now he is a paraplegic and imagine, he realize that needs to speak up for people and when we spoke and we realize that he needed attention for that, we said we would lend ourselves and support him but he was also willing to support our issue, which is the issue of a ban against offshore drilling. And he also sees it as a national issue and an issue that will also impact on the livelihood of people with disability.”

Jerome Flores, President, Belize Assembly for Persons with Diverse Abilities

“The support that they give is for me to get the stuff like the Gatorade and whatnot so that I would be able to be ready for this ride because I don’t want to start the ride and then I can’t finish it because I didn’t train well. And everybody knows that you need sponsorship when you are riding. Well after I got sponsorship, I began serious training—so that I would be able to travel through the hummingbird. The first time I went there it was really hard so I know what I needed to do. So I go every morning at four o’clock and I go and ride sixteen miles; sometimes twenty-five miles. The only adjustment I had to make was the ratchet down where the rail is.”

Jerome Flores

Andrea Polanco

“Can you discuss with us the different issues that you are raising awareness for through your ride?”

Jerome Flores

“One of the major things that I hear as the president of BAPDA is that people say that they are looking for a job and can’t get a job anywhere because of their disability. Now that is really down and they are discriminating against persons living with disability and I feel that that is wrong. That is one of the main issue and also healthcare. When you go to the hospital, a person with disability have to pay just like any other person and if the person living with a disability doesn’t have a job, how will they be able to pay for their bill. So we would just like to government to do something in supporting persons living with disability.”

Flores lost the use of his legs in an accident in 2003. He was left paralyzed from the waist down after he fell from a forty foot pole. Flores has worked with CARE Belize and has been serving as the President of BAPDA since 2009. In raising funds, as a part of the initiative, the public can make a contribution at First Caribbean Bank account number 10202430. News Five will be covering this third leg of Flores’ ride across Belize.

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