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Blind Brothers Cycling across Australia
by Linda Hawkins (Perth Australia Southern River Stake Public Affairs)

Lorin and Dean Nicholson with their pilot riders Grant Williams and John Eder.

Dean and Lorin Nicholson are brothers who were both born with retinitis pigmentosa – which means they have less than 10 % vision. They have been legally blind their entire lives but they have never let this fact stop them from achieving some amazing goals. This month (April 2010) they will create Australian history when they ride tandem pushbikes across the continent of Australia.

On March 29th the Brisbane-based siblings departed Perth on an epic journey across the Nullarbor that will conclude in Sydney a month later. Their aim is to create history by being the first blind persons to ride over 4000 kilometres across Australia in the hope that they will motivate others, with or without a disability, to make a difference in their own lives by doing something that will benefit others. Along the way, they are raising vital funds for Vision Australia, the nation’s leading provider of blindness and low vision services. They hope to also generate awareness of the significant abilities of people who are blind or have low vision.

This journey will certainly test their endurance abilities. During the first week of cycling, they have already encountered many challenges such as an incessant headwind to ride against, broken spokes on their bikes, blisters and aching limbs, not to mention other uncomfortable repercussions from sitting on a bicycle for up to 8 or 9 hours a day. They have also had long, hot grueling days to endure. On one particular day they recorded a maximum road temperature of a very warm 50.4 degrees celsius (122.72 degrees fahrenheit)

Of course this journey would not be possible without the support of their friends and family, especially from their father, their wives and children. They also have the selfless support of their pilot riders, both of whom have amazing stories to tell too about overcoming challenges in their lives.

Grant Williams is the pilot rider for Dean. He is the fourth eldest of 12 children and was born with a club foot. He endured numerous surgeries to correct his condition but at 11 months old he was up and running. He defied the odds by riding a bike at the age of four and at 16 he tackled (and won) his first 200km ride.

John Eder, the pilot rider for Lorin, has cheated death twice. His dreams of becoming an Olympic level cyclist came to an abrupt end when he was involved in a serious bicycle accident at age 17. Doctors doubted he would walk again and said he would be in a wheelchair by the age of 31. But this determined athlete got back on his bike and went on to win medals in State and Australian championships. He then had another accident at age 24 which resulted in severe injuries, but again he overcame his challenges and went on to win medals in elite cycling competitions.

Brothers Dean and Lorin have a huge challenge ahead of them but they also have a huge legacy to leave which is influenced by their strong LDS heritage. Their mother is a fifth-generation Mormon and their father, after joining the church at age 19, was called as the first missionary from Australia to serve a foreign mission. John Nicholson served in the United States in the Northwest Mission (1961-1963) and since then he has served twice as a Bishop and in a Stake Presidency. He now accompanies his sons wherever they go and serves as their driver.

The Nicholson brothers are scheduled to arrive in Sydney on the 26th April after traversing through many States, including Victoria, which is where Lorin served his mission. The total distance they anticipate riding is approximately the same distance as traveling from Utah to Florida.

To read daily updates about Dean and Lorin’s epic journey go to

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