“Me and the sidelines don’t work well together,” Allison Compton laughed.

The 41-year-old South Bay resident has had a prosthetic leg since birth due to an underdeveloped femur.

But she has never let that stop her from being a world class athlete.

“I was just doing what I do. It wasn’t a choice for me,” Compton said. “I grew up playing sports.”

The Paralympic volleyball player turned motivational speaker has achieved impressive feats during her career.

She was the first woman to join the Men’s U.S. Paralympics Volleyball Team in 1997 and kick started her own Women’s Paralympics Volleyball Team, winning the bronze medal at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.

“They’ve proven that you don’t need two arms to swim or two legs to run and that everyone has the right to sport,” she said of adaptive athletes.

Although Compton retired from the Paralympics after the win, she was far from finished with making her impact on the sports community.

Now, the wife and mother of three is bringing adaptive bikes to the Tour de Pier cycling fundraiser in her native Manhattan Beach for the first time.

***

Compton, who lost her mother to a colon-cancer complication in 2013, encountered the first-ever Tour de Pier that same May.

“We just happen to be walking along The Strand and we kind of ran into the event,” she reminisced. “It was really inspiring because we were just dealing with that cancer death in my family.”

The event involves hundreds of stationary bikes set up on the Manhattan Beach Pier and teams of riders pedaling away to raise money for cancer charities such as the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the Uncle Kory Foundation and the Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach.

“We donated that year and we’ve donated every year, but I was never able to ride because I would need a special bike,” Compton explained.

In December 2017, when her husband lost his brother to cancer, the urge to get off the sidelines at the next tour became even stronger for Compton.

“We were there at Tour de Pier again in 2018 and we said ‘We need to find a way to ride,’” she added. “I started reaching out to Tour de Pier on social media and asking if they had ever thought about doing adaptive bikes and including adaptive riders.”

***

Fast-forward to the upcoming 7th Annual Tour de Pier on Sunday, May 19.

Compton and a team of 10 adaptive athletes—which she has nicknamed ‘Team Freeda’ after her social media platform and the name of her prosthetic leg—will be operating two special bikes.

“We have a hand crank cycle that we can take the seat off so our riders don’t have to transfer onto the bike, they can just roll up and do the hand crank,” Compton explained, admitting it will be her first time riding a stationary bike.  “The other bike we have, we have adjusted the pedal so it can be a normal pedal or halfway up the bar, if you have a prosthetic leg like myself.”

Compton’s family and friends will also be on a regular, third bike for Team Freeda.

Tour de Pier Cofounder Lisa Manheim said event coordinators were excited about bringing Compton and her team on board.

“We are thrilled to have Allison and the adaptive bikes because of the inspiration she is providing to all the people fighting the battle against cancer,” Manheim said, noting Tour de Pier sponsored one of Team Freeda’s bikes. “It was not a difficult decision if you know Allison’s story or hear her passion for not only adaptive sports, but inspiring stories.”

Compton plans to take Team Freeda beyond the volleyball court and Tour de Pier.

“It’s really just about inclusion and raising awareness," said Compton. "It’s really freedom...to be yourself and know it’s okay to be different...to understand no matter what happens, you never give up.

"Hopefully if there is anything to do with inclusion efforts, diversity or just doing the right thing, you’ll find Freeda.”

For more information on Tour de Pier, visit tourdepier.com.

 *Updated 5/9/19 to reflect the correct spelling of the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and correct name of the Uncle Kory Foundation. 

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