With one wheel and a big heart, this unicyclist is raising money for kids’ cancer research

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Paolo Piro was first introduced to riding a unicycle in the early days of the pandemic. Sixteen months later, he begins the ride of his life.

“I drive all the way around Hawaii,” he said.

He means that literally. He circles the entire Big Island to raise money for childhood cancer research through the annual Great Cycle Challenge.

“I personally promised to drive 500 miles. The lap itself is about 350, so I’ve committed 150 there,” he said.

While other contestants in the United States use two wheels, he rides one. And with no gears or brakes, it only has pedal power to accelerate or decelerate.

“It’s definitely, considerably more difficult,” he said. ‘First of all, you can’t kiss. So we basically kick every foot of all that. ”

The Great Cycle Challenge lasts through September. Piro has split his ride into sections and people have pledged money for every mile he completes.

“Not only do I get to see some of the most beautiful views in the world, I can help people do that,” he said.

Piro is part of a small team of unicycles called Team Big Island Lap.

“Just having his expertise, knowing what to look for. He’s been super helpful in planning the trip, planning the route and being able to sort out all the logistics,” said fellow rider Owen Farmer.

Piro and his teammates are trying to raise $5,000 for the challenge and Wednesday is a big donation day.

“You will be matched up to 100%, depending on how long the money lasts. Usually it’s a few million dollar pool,” he said.

Piro started riding a unicycle to practice. Now the 48-year-old resident of Pahoa is addicted, even though the spills can be painful. He falls on average every other week.

“Occasionally you go down hard. About a month and a half ago I broke my wrist. I was able to take the brace off just before the challenge,” he said.

Piro’s professional background is in graphic design and cartoons. He calls himself the Unitoonist.

Click here to make a pledge to Piro and the team’s efforts.

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