The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Cycling to raise awareness, champion a cause

As spring kicks off and the heat picks up, Erik Golson Williams will be braving the Southern California sun to bicycle 150 miles from the CSUN campus to San Diego.

Williams, a 2009 graduate of CSUN’s television production department, is not your average bicyclist. He is paralyzed from the waist down and will make his journey on a specialized hand bike.

“I don’t really see it as a disability,” Williams said. “I’m just glad to be an alumnus and glad to be able to support the Center for Disabilities and CSUN.”

William’s destination is the 25th annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, put on by CSUN and held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

To send off and raise awareness about the conference, junior Luda Gogolushko, 22, recreation and tourism major, has organized the Spirit Kick-Off Celebration on Tuesday, March 23.

“It has been difficult and complicated getting it all together,” Gogolushko said.  “This is my first event and it has definitely challenged me so much.”

Gogolushko said the Kick-Off will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., offering a variety of attractions and activities, including events titled “The Show” and “The Challenge.”

“The Show” includes confirmed performances by Lambda Theta Alpha, ACASOLA and a Japanese Taiko drum ensemble, Gogolushko said.  Williams will also give a speech before he embarks on his ride to San Diego.

Also speaking will be Mary Anne Cummins-Prager, associated vice president of student access and support services, and Mae Jara, professor of kinesiology with the Brown Center of Achievement, Shane Frehlick, Kinesiology Department chair, as well as representatives from Phi Kappa Phi, who will be accompanying Williams on his journey south.

Williams will be departing at 10:45 a.m. preceding the  “cheer line-up,” whereby students will form rows to flank Williams and cheer him as he heads off.  A police escort will also accompany Williams down Nordhoff Street, Gogolushko said.

Following the performance, speeches and Williams’ departure, several tables and attractions will be arrayed in Bayramian Hall.  “The Challenge” is one such event, designed as a physical test for students to use only their arms to propel them.

“It’s a large, semicircular course and participants take the first half on a hand bike, and run the second half on a long board using plungers, if you can imagine that,” Gogolushko said.

Food will be provided by Nissen Chow Mein, makers of Cup-O-Noodles, while the Engineering Department will share in the spirit of the conference with technology demonstrations, spanning a variety of fields, Gogolushko said.

“It’s not just people with disabilities this technology will affect,” Goglushko said. “It’s people all around the world.”

Students are encouraged to drop of notes of encouragement and posters at the two “Good Luck” tables, run by Alpha Phi and Tri Delta,  that will be given to Williams upon his arrival in San Diego.

“He’ll be doing 150 miles, 50 miles a day,” Gogolushko said.  “I’ll present the box of notes when he arrives at the conference on Thursday.”

A.S. is doing its part to make the event as big a success as possible, said A.S. President Abel Pacheco.

“Luda is the main organizer,” Pacheco said.  “We’re helping her, recruiting volunteers, and supporting the event financially as well.”

The focus of the event is on raising awareness about the services available to disabled people, and the organizations on campus that provide those services, Gogolushko said. The Disability Resources and Education Services (DRES) department is a key figure in the proceedings, as are the Brown Center, both organizations on campus that played a large part of Williams’ career at the school, as well as his cycling endeavors.

“To prepare for this, I was helped by the Brown Center PE program, lifted weights, really started to focus on my strength,” said Williams.

“I love CSUN, it changed my life, and I’m a gung-ho alumnus,” Williams said.

The journey to San Diego is a precursor to a full cross country biking trek from New York to Los Angeles that Williams will embark on to raise awareness and support for Project Love, his organization whose aim is to provide scholarships for families of U.S. military personnel whose lives have been disrupted in the course of war, Williams said.

“We wish him nothing but success,” Pacheco said of Williams.  “We’re very proud of him.”Cycling to raise awareness, champion a cause

Cycling to raise awareness, champion a cause

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