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article imageOp-Ed: Hand cyclist is eager to go even further to help End Polio Now Special

By Jonathan Farrell     May 12, 2014 in Lifestyle
Glen Ellen - With the completion of his 900 mile End Polio Now bicycle tour this past fall of 2013, Glen Ellen/Sonoma resident Steve Brumme is preparing for his next bicycle tour adventure in May of 2015.
Only for this tour Brumme will go 3,000 miles across the United States.
“I had wanted to make the journey this year, but a rotator cuff injury is the reason for my delay,” he said while taking the time to share his experiences over a cup of tea with this reporter sitting in his backyard in Glen Ellen overlooking a view of vineyards in the distance.
He anticipates doing much the same as he did for the 900 mile bicycle tour, with a departure from the town square in Sonoma only for this 3,000 mile trek, “my aim is to go along the coast highway and then make my way to Charleston, NC. I have family there,” he said.
People are welcomed to come join Brumme as he makes his way. Yet surprisingly, he said that other than checking in with friends and family, he will not have a crew or staff with him. “When I am on the road I go about 35 to 60 miles a day. I rest for about a day to let my arms recover and then I am back on the road again.”
The 3,000 mile journey seeks to help two causes, End Polio Now, through the Rotary International clean water project, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
"I have known Steve for over a decade," said David Meeks speaking on behalf of the Sonoma Valley Chapter of Rotary International. "And, as a member of the local chapter of the Rotary Club, added Meeks, I can say that our club has been honored to support him in the efforts to raise awareness about polio and to gather funds to help put an end to polio."
"We were there to see him set off on his 900 mile journey, Meeks said, some of us joining in part of the way." The local Rotary does other things to raise awareness about the continued struggle to eradicate polio, such as through the "Purple Pinkie Project."
Brumme travels on a Top End Hand Cycle and with the power of his arms he travels the road. He believes strongly in good health and exercise every day, even for people with disabilities. “Exercising rigorously, in whatever form at whatever level for an individual opens the mind and actually helps the human brain,” said Brumme.
Exercise wakes the brain up. “I honestly don’t believe in getting ‘old’ as we age,” Brumme said. “The body (as he sees it) is able to do anything you ask it to do; just do a little bit more each day.”
This is why even though Brumme will be having rotator cuff repair surgery he believes strongly that he will be fully recuperated. He has his mind set to be ready for the 3,000 mile trip in 2015. All Brumme asks is that he gets sponsors for the trip.
“All I am asking help with is only what I will need for the trip, he said. And, that’s just for being on the road to cover expenses,” Brumme added. He mentioned that he will have gear with him to attend to most bike repairs. “And, I know how to manage when the road gets rough and how to take a tumble.”
A martial arts practitioner, Brumme knows not only how to fend for himself but also how to heal. “I healed myself back in 2006, he said, when a doctor said I had cancer.” Determination was the key as Brumme set himself on a strict diet of all natural foods, a good night’s rest and exercise. “I sold my car, he said, as a way to push myself to exercise every day.” “I walked everywhere and that averaged out to be about three to six miles a day.”
Being on crutches did not stop him. Brumme figured out a way to maneuver with crutches without having the crutches dig into his ribs or under-arms.
“Big thoughts require a willingness to change and change requires movement; exercise, he said. “Every movement helps a person change and motion or exercise helps move thought,” he added.
Just one person moving to create a movement is familiar to Brumme. He mentioned Peace Pilgrim who walked 25000 miles from 1953 until her death 1981 and John Francis of Bodega Bay, CA. Brumme referred to John Francis as “the planet walker.” “These people made a difference and they were acting as just one person,” noted Brumme. That type of individual commitment and deep faith, “that goes further than religion, it is more about a deep spiritual consciousness,” he said.
"Steve is perhaps one of the few examples here in the US of someone living with polio," said Meeks. He pointed out that back in the 1940's and 50's contracting polio was very real. "People who had polio could end up in a wheel chair or an 'iron lung' for the rest of their lives," Meeks said.
One of the most prominent examples is perhaps President Franklin D. Roosevelt who while vacationing with his family in New Brunswick, Canada contracted the disease and struggled with use of crutches and a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.
Contracting polio, even among adults was a real threat. "And, there was this fear, because it could strike anywhere," said Meeks. "Many public places like swimming pools and playgrounds, would be quarantined or shut down, even if there was even an alleged case reported of polio in a given area."
While Meeks noted "Polio in this country has become a thing of the past," He said that polio continues to impact the lives of millions in other countries.
On May 5 the World Health Organization released to the press its concerns about the continued spread of polio in other parts of the world, such as Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon.
As recent as last year (2013) according to the Word Health Organization, increasing evidence shows that 60 percent of polio cases now in other parts of the world are present because of adult carriers.
Typically polio affects children under the age of five. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Death occurs when breathing muscles become incapacitated.
"All it takes is a simple vaccination," said Meeks. "But the poverty and on-going conflicts especially in areas of armed combat have allowed the disease to take hold, continuing to grow." This is especially so in places like Pakistan, etc."
Also according to the World Health Organization, polio has spread from Syria to Iraq, and from Cameroon to places like Equatorial Guinea.
A snapshot from his bike tour last year in 2013  Hand-Cyclist  Steve Brumme is eager to make the jou...
A snapshot from his bike tour last year in 2013, Hand-Cyclist, Steve Brumme is eager to make the journey again, only this time he wants to go 3,000 miles across the United States.
Courtesy of Steve Brumme and The Sonoma Sun
Meeks, like Brumme believes that in our modern high-tech world, a disease like polio should be eradicated completely. "There is little excuse for a disease like this to continue to plague the world."
This is why he is pleased to help Brumme in his continued efforts to raise awareness of polio's continued existence and threat in our world today. Taking a moment to contact this reporter, Rich Lee, fellow Sonoma Chapter Rotary Club member wanted to add to what Meeks had said. "Steve is an example of how people living with Polio can overcome great challenges," said Lee. "And in some cases, do more than those not afflicted with the disease."
Brumme will map out his upcoming 3,000 mile route with the help of The Bicycle Adventure Club. He is grateful for all the support previously received while on the 900 mile tour last year. Donations are always welcome. “I am asking that people sponsor me by purchasing my paintings, hiring me as a coach, public speaker or art teacher.
“Did you know that anyone can paint like Vermeer if they set their mind to it, and I can show how,” he said.
For more information about Steve Brumme and his art work, see his art page. And for his books such as “Moving Fast, Sitting Still” visit that web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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