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      Paralyzed man turns to hand cycling to get out and about

      A Colorado man who's made lemonade out of lemons is visiting the Tri-States to spread his message to others.

      Rich Dixon fell from a roof while installing Christmas lights in 1987.

      He only fell about nine feet, but he landed badly.

      The fall damaged his spinal cord, leaving him permanently paralyzed from the chest down.

      But that injury hasn't kept him from getting out and about to enjoy life to the fullest.

      Dixon said, "I spent 10 years in a very dark place, and being angry at the world. Being angry at everybody else for going on with their life."

      That's when Dixon turned to hand cycling.

      He said, "It was the one thing that got me going again."

      Dixon is riding 1500 miles along the length of the Mississippi River and stopped in the Quincy area Tuesday.

      "Why we're doing it?" he asked. "It depends on who you ask. If you ask my friends, they'll tell you it's because I'm crazy. I would tell you it's because it's been a dream of mine for more than 10 years. I turn 60 this year, so it's kind of time to either put up or shut up."

      Dixon said, "I think I'm trying to accomplish several different things on some different levels. Personally, I'm just trying to show myself that I can do it. After the injury that I had, and sitting in a wheelchair for 24 years, I'm just trying to show myself that I can still do something like this."

      He said, "I'm trying to share a message of open dreams. The idea that life knocks you down but you don't have to stay down. That hope is bigger than the adversity we face, that we all encounter mountains.//It's possible to dream big dreams and still accomplish them."

      Dixon said, "I was a teacher for 35 years, and I saw lots of kids even who had already given up on their dreams, because they thought the bad hand they'd been dealt made their dreams impossible. I just think that's not true, so I want to share my message."

      Dixon is partnering with a group called Convoy of Hope, which raises money for disaster relief.

      You can find more about him, the group, his message, and his story at