When you meet Erin Scala, you're immediately taken in by her infectious smile and can-do spirit. Diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa, a retinal disease which causes progressive vision loss, at the age of four, Erin continued to be able to do many of the things kids do -- play soccer, ride a bike -- until her mid-teens when her sight progressively worsened. Now in her late 20s, Erin is legally blind, uses a cane and relies on friends and family to drive her places.
"As a kid, I always wanted to be a police officer," says Erin. "When I realized that was something I wouldn’t be able to do, it bummed me out. But, at the same time, there are so many other things I can do. So I deal with it and have fun, because I can’t change it."
Erin earned a degree in criminal justice from SUNY Oswego, and did internships with the DA’s office, the probation office, and a private security firm before settling on working with troubled teens at the Elmcrest Children's Center. "I help them find jobs and stay on the right track. It’s a challenge, but that’s what I like."
Erin's sporting life is nothing short of inspiring. She snowboards, runs, rides a tandem bike and does martial arts. She also raced in two Iron Girls triathlons, with a partner as a guide. Funds from the Point to Pint Ride helped Erin to purchase a racing tandem bicycle.
Past Recipients of Funds Raised by the Point to Pint Ride
Jill Walsh - Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010, Jill Walsh, 54, hasn't let this disabling disease slow her down. “If you want to do something, there’s a way to do it,” Walsh says. “It’s not going to be the way you used to do it. It’s not going to be the speed you used to do it. But if you want to be physically active for the sake of being physically active, there’s no reason not to be,” she said.
That can-do attitude allowed her to complete an Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ad 26.2-mile run) in Lake Placid in 2012. Not one to rest on her laurels, Jill planned an ambitious race schedule for 2013, to include the Mountain Goat run and the Paratriathlon National Championship in Austin, Texas in May, the Syracuse Irongirl triathlon Aug. 4 and a 620-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to San Diego in October to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Funds raised in 2013 gave Jill a Trek 4.5 Madone road bike to ride in the Challenged Athletes Million Dollar Ride.
Since 2014, Jill has focused exclusively on competing in the trike class in Paralympic cycling events. In her first world championships, Walsh came away with silver in the road race and bronze in the time trial. In 2015, Jill topped the podium in the Time Trial and captured the silver medal in the Road Race at the Para Cycling Road World Championships in Switzerland. She represented the USA at the ParaPan American Games in summer 2015, winning gold in the time trial. In 2016, Jill achieved her dream of competing in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, winning silver medals in both the road race and the time trial.