It was an exciting weekend in Washington, DC when Scott Heyman joined his cousin, Allison Gordon, for the 2011 Audi Best Buddies Challenge. They participated in the 100K bike ride, which started in the predawn hours of Saturday, October 22, 2011.Scott Heyman is a healthy athlete with a developmental disability called Fragile X syndrome. He lives with his two best friends, Russell and Paul, with support from ILP, a division of Atlanta’s JF&CS Independent Living Program of Atlanta. This summer, Scott’s cousin, Allison Gordon, a pre-med graduate of Vanderbilt University, called to see if he would like to train with her for the upcoming Best Buddies Bike Challenge in Washington, DC. The training would involve multiple bike rides to build endurance for a 100K event. Scott enjoys riding his bike every Friday to join his family for Shabbat dinner, and he takes weekly spin classes at LA Fitness. However, he had never trained for the distance that this race offered. Scott accepted the challenge, and would train for the event with his cousin Allison, joined by his job coach, Tom Shibley, of Supported Employment Services, who is an avid rider as well.
By October, Scott and Allison were ready to take on the challenge. Scott and his parents, Gail & Lyons Heyman of Marietta, arrived in DC a day early so that Scott could be fitted for his bike. The experience started off with the warm welcome by two National bike champions, Jeff Shoemake and Nathan Winkleman, as they put on Scott’s clip-on bike pedals and encouraged Scott how to stay strong for the next day ride.
That Friday evening, Scott and his family joined the other members of Team Nashville for a kick-off for a carb loaded meal at a friend’s home in DC.
At 6:00 am the next morning, Scott headed to the Washington Monument to join the 1400 other participants for breakfast under the tent. There was a pep talk at the start line with Anthony Shriver, founder of Best Buddies International. Marie Shriver and many other members of the Kennedy family came in support of the ride. Even before the sun came up, Scott was cued up with the other bikers for the race. With his helmet on, his race jersey number 101 on his back, Scott heard the final blow of the whistle. He looked over at Allison and off they went!
The traffic was stopped for the bikers at the Mall and all around DC. Starting at the Washington Monument, the route followed the Potomac River up into Maryland. Streets were closed, and there was a police escort on the Beltway. Every 15 miles there was a rest stop with cheers, water and nutrients for the bikers.
The race continued for many hours, and near 1:00 pm, Scott and Allison could be seen approaching the finish line. It was so exciting! The loud noise of the cow bells and cheers were alarming, but it did not slow them down. Scott stood up on his bike and stepped into super drive with an awesome finish. He went through the finish line and kept on peddling, never looking back. It took him a few moments to turn around to get yet another round of applause.
After the race, Allison took off her helmet, high fived her Best Buddy, and then calm down her cousin’s nerves by massaging his knee. Allison’s smooth words of encouragement kept Scott’s mind focused on the challenge during the long race. The whole time they joked with each other, sang Camp Barney songs, and had a great time.
After the race, when speaking with Scott’s brother, Jared, and sister, Carly, on the phone, he was asked “Scott, how did you do it?”. His answer was simple, “I got on my bike, and then got off”.
Scott is an inspiration to many. He has dozens of new Facebook friends, and enjoys sharing pictures and stories of the Best Buddies Bike Challenge. Scott is a hero for taking on this awesome challenge and going beyond expectations.