(CBS Newspath) — A group in California is bringing the joy of cycling to the blind and visually impaired.
Rocky Camp is ready to ride despite having Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition that robbed him of his sight. A veterinarian and triathlete, the 65 year old struggled with the diagnosis. His condition took a toll, not just emotionally.
“I was definitely getting weaker and I didn’t have the endurance that I used to have and it came back very quickly,” he says. Camp credits Dave White with motivating him to stay physically active.
Together, Camp and White have pedaled their way across southern California. In 2007, White started the Blind Stokers Club. A captain with vision is paired with a blind partner called a stoker. White says, “We will take and support a stoker who wants to ride recreationally, once or twice a month, and all the way to someone who wants to compete.”
Research shows people with vision loss are more likely to suffer from depression. Psychologists say cycling can improve mood and relieve anxiety and stress. “I love just looking and seeing the smile and the expressions when we go different places or go downhill or feel a breeze come across us,” White says. “I feel normal,” Camp says.
Camp is enjoying experiences he thought were lost forever. “There’s a chance my kids may get this,” he says. “It’s a genetic disease and I want to be a good example for them that life will go on.” He says it’s all part of the journey.
The club has 140 active members and rolls along on grants and donations.