Nearly every weekend, Don Cecconi and his son, Neal, hit the backcountry of Orange County or beyond on motorcycle trips.
Which doesn't sound too remarkable, except that Neal Cecconi, 18, suffers from Klippel-Feil Syndrome--a congenital brain disorder--wears leg braces, can't walk without assistance and has undergone about a dozen surgeries since he was born.
The condition doesn't slow Neal down when he is seated on the back of his father's GL1500 Gold Wing motorcycle.
"You think of him being real fragile as a handicapped kid, but he's 18," said the 45-year-old Don Cecconi. "He wears me out and can last longer on these rides. He just plunks right in there."
The motorcycle trips provide father and son with a physical freedom they didn't know together until about four years ago.
Since then, they have logged about 26,000 miles tooling along everywhere from the curves of Ortega Highway to interstate highways and roads leading to Sacramento, San Francisco, Reno and San Diego.
The Cecconis are planning a trip to Denver in September. It will be the longest one they've ever taken from their Fountain Valley home.
Don Cecconi said he stopped riding a smaller solo motorcycle in the late 1980s so he could spend more time with his son, who communicates at the level of a 3-year-old and feared the sound of the two-wheeled machine.
"I gave it up and never expected to ride again," Cecconi said.
By chance, Cecconi and his son walked into a motorcycle shop a few years later during a break in a sporting event for disabled children. At the urging of his wife, Gail, Cecconi took a test ride on a GL1500 with Neal on the back.
"He was screaming that he wanted to get off, then he was laughing a bit," Cecconi recalled. "He said he wanted to keep riding. When I pulled in, he was all grins. I was teary-eyed. It was something I always wanted to do. It was something that I could share with him."