Robert Taylor’s mission to never give up.
It was a grueling race for Special Olympics North Carolina cyclist Robert Anthony Taylor. Despite the agonizing pain and screaming exhaustion he felt during the 25k road race, the Charlotte resident kept his eyes on the finish line and pedaled faster.
Taylor soon began to notice that a fellow competitor in the Special Olympics NC Fall Tournament was ready to hit the brakes from sheer exhaustion.
“I don’t want people to give up,” Taylor said. “I decided to ride next to him and tell him to keep going.”
Taylor’s positive encouragement was the boost this anonymous rider needed. The two riders crossed the finish line and Taylor received abundant thanks for his generous support in the last leg of the race. Taylor’s act of kindness and lesson in perseverance wasn’t surprising. To know Taylor’s story is to know this is the type of man he is.
Taylor began participating in Special Olympics cycling and bowling 13 years ago. At first, he was reluctant and afraid of what to expect from competition. It took him a few years to find his focus and drive but once he did he won a plethora of medals. However, four years ago, his life changed in a matter of seconds when he was hit by a car.
“They pronounced me dead at the scene,” he said. “That’s what they told my dad.”
Taylor was in the midst of crossing the street when a woman driving 45 mph and texting simultaneously hit him head on. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors immediately began surgery to insert rods into his back. Once the surgery was complete, Taylor was determined to get back on a bicycle.
“Everyone thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “It’s made me a lot stronger. Sometimes I don’t know my own strength.”
In a matter of two weeks, Taylor was back at home and focused on improving his health. Not only did he want to become a better cyclist but he also wished to alter his diet and fitness routine.
“I was overweight and I wanted to do something about it,” he said.
Taylor began cutting out junk food from his diet and started to cycle every day of the week before heading to work. He focused on portioning his meals so that he would only eat food servings that would fit in the palm of his hand.
In a short period of time, Taylor dropped from 279 pounds to 213, for a total loss of 66 pounds. Taylor says it was not an easy process and continues to remind himself to move forward.
“It’s all about training your mind,” he said. “I have to keep telling myself to keep going when I’m riding. Special Olympics brought me around a lot of friendly people. I love competition. Next year, I’m going to be even better.”
Taylor credits Special Olympics with his drive to improve a little bit every day. He hopes to continue moving forward to be the best cyclist he can be while sharing his message with others that giving up is not an option.