Why I Ride – Allison Compton
I’m a Manhattan Beach native, born and raised, one of four siblings. I was born with an underdeveloped femur in my right leg, so ever since I was able to walk, I’ve worn a prosthetic.
I played volleyball all throughout elementary school and in high school, and I played club volleyball, all on regular teams. It was after my club volleyball season that my coach said, “Hey, I saw this team playing, and they all had some sort of a prosthetic. You should reach out and contact this team.”
When I got to the tryouts, I realized I was the only female. I tried out with them anyway, and made the team. I was the first female to make the men’s Standing Paralympic Volleyball team. It was a few days before we left for the Sydney Olympics, we got that call: because I was a female, I would not be allowed to play.
It took me nearly eight years to form the women’s team, but we finally formed it just in time for the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. In Athens we took the bronze medal, and the Paralympic Women’s Team has medaled in every Paralympics since. It was never a matter of, if I could do something, it was always, “I’m going to do it.”
Cancer has always affected our lives, it’s always been around. When my mom passed away in 2013, she passed away from complications of colon cancer. It was very sudden. She called us on a Friday and said, “I’m having stomach pain.” On Saturday morning, she told us to take her to the hospital. They did a CAT scan and found a mass in her colon. They immediately proceeded to operate and they told us it was colon cancer. She just never recovered from the operation. She got sepsis and they couldn’t reverse it. We took her into the hospital on a Saturday, and she died on a Monday.
Uncle Jim—we called him Fun Jim—he was a high school football coach, and everyone just adored him. He had metastatic melanoma. They operated and removed it, and they thought they got everything. Unfortunately, it went into his blood, once it gets into your bloodstream, it just starts attacking every organ. Our goal was to try to get him to his 40th birthday, but he died at 39.
My first time experiencing Tour de Pier, we were on a walk trying to clear our heads from dealing with my mom’s estate. We walked to the pier and saw this whole event, the Tour de Pier. When we heard it was to fight cancer, it just hit us, this was something we wanted to be part of. We immediately started donating, but I was a little frustrated because I knew I wouldn’t be able to ride. I need a special bike to ride.
Then in 2017, when Adam’s brother passed away from cancer, we said, “Enough.” I felt frustrated, I felt like I wasn’t helping enough. We weren’t doing enough. Money wasn’t enough. We had to participate. We had to ride.
Once I connected with Tour de Pier, they were wonderful, and they worked with me so that we could help form our first adaptive team. An adaptive team is someone that might have a physical disability, where they might have a hard time riding a traditional bike. They might be in a wheelchair, so they might need a handcycle.
In my instance, I have a prosthetic leg, but I can’t do a full rotation on a regular bike. One of the pedals on the right-hand side where Freeda is has to be cut down. So I do a mini-rotation on the bike. Freeda, that’s the nickname of my prosthetic leg.
We worked so hard to get the adaptive team together. I reached out to my community, asked my friends, spread the word – and they came, they all showed up. They answered the call and it was an amazing experience. Team Freeda 2020 will be bringing adaptive teams to Tour de Pier for a second year. Cancer doesn’t discriminate, and we’re not going to let a bike discriminate either. We are working really hard to make sure that everyone rides.
To learn more about signing up as an adaptive rider, head to http://adaptive.tourdepier.com