Bradley Hintze wants your help. He wants to ride his bike to raise money for people with disabilities and needs donations.
Yeah, you’ve heard this before, this business of people climbing mountains, rollerblading across the country, running a marathon a week, sailing around the world, whatever, to raise money or awareness for some cause. So Hintze wants to enter the Ride Without Limits 100-miler this fall in North Carolina to raise money for United Cerebral Palsy and kids with disabilities. Get in line, right?
There’s just one catch: Hintze has his own physical disabilities. He has the double whammy — cerebral palsy and cervical dystonia, a disease that causes muscles to contract constantly — in this case, it pulls Hintze’s face and neck to his left shoulder. It’s great for left turns, but it’s exhausting and makes speech difficult.
In other words, people should be riding bikes for Hintze, not vice versa.
This is what Hintze says to that: “I have a great passion for helping people who are in a situation like me — or like I was — and showing them they can do whatever they want. All limitations are perceived; they are not real.”
Hintze should know. Maybe you recall a story about him in the Deseret News three years ago. After graduating from high school, Hintze worked in construction for a couple of years, living with his parents in Sandy. He never gave college a thought because “I thought it was for smart people and people with money.” Then there were the physical challenges he faced in living an independent life at school.
Encouraged by others, he enrolled at Utah State, where fellow students — complete strangers — stopped him just to shake his hand and thank him for the inspiration they derived from watching him lurch to class ever day, head listing to the left. USU presented Hintze with the school’s Legacy of Utah State Award, which is presented annually to the student who represents “the heart and soul of the university” and who is committed to study, service and perseverance through adversity.
By the time he graduated with a degree in biochemistry, he was fielding scholarship offers from Pitt, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, New York State and Duke. He chose Duke, where he recently completed his third year in a doctoral program.
Again, he has inspired others. Local TV station WRAL recently aired a story about Hintze and his academic pursuits. It includes an interview with fellow student Christopher Williams, who says, “I hate to admit this sort of thing, but when I first met Bradley in the back of my mind I discounted people with dystonia and, well, I can’t do that anymore. Bradley has pushed me a little closer to the decent human being I should’ve been in the first place.”
Another classmate, Liz Videau, thought the report missed part of the story. “They concentrated on his disability,” Videau told the Deseret News. “They missed how he interacts with people, that he is a kind, wise and insightful human being. He doesn’t make anything of his disability. He uses that to help others. That’s what they missed — the heart of this young man. The rest of us have an inability to give of ourselves. We’re the ones with the disability.”
Videau continued, calling Hintze an awe-inspiring and gifted student who leads a balanced life of academics, society and physical activity. “He’s not like most graduate students who totally immerse themselves in academics,” she said. Translation: He’s not a geek.
The 29-year-old Hintze rides 30 miles every other day, 40 on weekends, but he plans to add 15-milers on the other days, largely because he doesn’t think he is fit enough yet to finish a 100-mile ride. At this point, Videau warns him about doing “another face plant.” In the fall of 2010, he ran his tire into a crack in the road and went down hard, smacking his head on the pavement. His helmet prevented serious injury, but he was dazed and cut up. Passers-by took him to the doctor.
He didn’t let his disabilities stop him, so he wasn’t about to let a fall slow him down. He is a regular sight on the roads around Durham.
Meanwhile, he is trying to raise money through his blog. To enter the Ride Without Limits, bikers are required to raise a minimum of $500; Hintze has raised three times that amount, and he has set a goal of $3,000. That’s the part where Hintze needs some help.