West Chicago, Illinois: August 23, 2012 - With summer waning, earlier sunsets bring a quicker end to the Wednesday evening training races organized by Athletes By Design (ABD) Cycling Club that are taking place at the DuPage Business Center in West Chicago.
City officials approved the club's use of public streets within the center to train its cyclists for the upcoming Fall Fling that is scheduled next month, also proposed for this location.
Little did they know then, that the course would be a training ground for a 2012 Paralympian. Joe Berenyi of Oswego heads to London next week to join the U.S. Paralympics cycling team. He makes his Paralympics debut in only his second year of paracycling.
The 43-year old father of three was a stand-out athlete through high school and went on to play college baseball. Later on, he discovered a love for cycling and did well in several race competitions, until an accident in 1994 on a construction worksite took his right arm and severely injured a kneecap. Following multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation, his focus was in walking again. It wasn't until years later, through much encouragement from a fellow-cyclist and neighbor and the support of his family, Berenyi began riding on a mountain bike retrofitted by a local bike shop. Then, it wasn't long before his competitive spirit returned.
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Berenyi, who is sponsored by the ABD Cycling Club, rides a specially outfitted bicycle with an electronic gear-shifting mechanism. "He is so ridiculously strong that he can out-sprint almost anybody with one arm holding on to the bike," said Mary Lee Geraghty, who serves as the vice-president of the Club and also co-owns Prairie Path Cycles in Winfield and Batavia which sponsors the ABD Cycling Club.
Watching the training races on Wednesday nights at the DuPage Business Center has become something of a tradition among friends and families of the cycling club. Recently, Art Norman and a crew from NBC Chicago News visited West Chicago to film a segment on the inspiring athlete, who in Norman's words "…will not allow his disability to spoil his ability to bring home a gold medal from London." http://www.nbcchicago.com/video/#!/news/sports/Paralympian-Peddles-With-Dreams-of-Gold/164953626
Indeed witnessing Berenyi traveling around the West Chicago course at speeds in excess of 30 mph provides a thrill and leaves one amazed at his sense of focus, balance and courage. That thrill will clearly be magnified when viewed on the world stage of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, which begin Aug. 29 -- Sept. 9, 2012.
West Chicago's Acting Mayor Ruben Pineda is just one of many West Chicago fans who will be cheering Berenyi on from the homefront during the upcoming Games. "Joe is an incredible athlete. We wish him and all the great athletes of Team USA the very best in London", he said.