UPMC’s Molinero Competes in Grueling Handcycling Race

By: Ashley Trentrock and Tim Betler


Ashli Molinero was born with a tiny opening at the bottom of her spine. After being diagnosed with spina bifida, her parents were told she might never walk. But Ashli had different plans.

At the age of two, she learned to walk with crutches. In 2002, she began to handcycle recreationally and ten years later challenged herself to compete in the Pittsburgh Marathon.Molinero is now pushing even further. On July 21, she will be one of only two women competing in the Alaska Challenge, a grueling, 240 mile, eight-stage handcycling race considered to be the toughest course in the world. She will face elite competition, including a paralympian, but Molinero welcomes the daunting challenge with a smile.“Crank or cry, just don’t stop,” she says.

When Molinero isn’t training or competing, she’s fulfilling her other passion to help others. As Director of the UPMC Disabilities Resource Center (DRC), she and her team are responsible for ensuring that all of UPMC’s health care and resources are accessible to people with disabilities. The DRC focuses on education, facility accessibility, community engagement and policy.

To learn more about the UPMC DRC, click here. And watch the video above to learn more about Molinero’s journey.