Olivia Conforti – Mount Laurel, NJ
Ever since I was a young child I loved the outdoors; that’s where I wanted to be all the time. I am now 17 years old, applying to colleges, and going into a wildlife biology major. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with hereditary spastic parapalegia. This is a progressively degenerative neurological disorder that is slowly taking away functioning ability in my legs. When I was initially told that in 5 to 10 years I would need walking assistance or even be in a wheelchair, one can imagine how devistated I was. But I refuse to let it stop me from doing what I love. I really picked up biking when I started to lose my ability to run. It is now my replacement for jogging, and my absolute favorite thing to do. With biking, I can still get the wind-through-my-hair feeling, I can go on trails, and it is a convenient way to get around. I go biking any chance I get, and I have high hopes that is is something that I will never have to stop doing. One of my top goals is to bike across the country, defying all of the doctors that tell me I won’t be able to do it.