The thrill of feeling independent, the wind on your face and the freedom that comes with riding your first bike is a cherished childhood memory. It’s an experience that many kids can have thanks, in part, to the generosity of people who participate in Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare’s Pedal in Place event.
There’s still an opportunity for teams to sign up for this relay-style stationary bike race. Teams of 10 riders gather to compete and raise money to buy bikes and trikes that are specially adapted for kids who have disabilities. The fifth annual Pedal in Place is on Sunday, March 18 at Life Time Fitness in Lakeville, Minnesota. The event includes an Adapted Bike Expo where children who have disabilities can test ride bicycles and tricycles adapted to their needs.
Many Gillette families say the adaptive bikes are helpful for their child’s physical therapy and their emotional well-being.
“I’ll never forget seeing Mikey’s face light up the first time he got on that bike and pedaled away,” says his mom, Brittany Carothers. “Biking helps Mikey socialize with his friends, and it’s strengthened his legs and core.”
The Carothers family is proud to have participated in Pedal in Place every year since the event began in 2013. “Team Mikey” has been one of the top fundraisers each and every year. Brittany Carothers says having an adaptive bike has made a difference in Mikey’s life. “That’s what motivates us to build “Team Mikey” and ride year after year for Pedal in Place.”
Last year the Valentine family drove for nearly two hours from their St. Cloud, Minnesota home to Lakeville to give their son Gavin the chance to test drive a bike during the bike expo.
“Gavin has a 10-year-old brother, Darius, who rides his bike all the time,” his mother, Crescence Valentine says. “Gavin looks up to his big brother and wants to spend time riding bikes with him.”
Gavin has cerebral palsy and needs a special bike with a “hoop” and seatbelt to provide support for his body, “sandal pedals” so his feet can be strapped in, special handle bars and a particular breaking system. His new bike is a shiny, red, three-wheeled Triad.
Adaptive bikes and trikes can be costly and run from $1,500 to more than $5,000 depending on the model and specifications needed.
Jack Carlson of Strauss Skates and Bicycles in Maplewood, Minnesota is an expert in crafting adaptive bikes for kids. “I’ve probably made close to 120 adaptive bikes for Gillette kids over the years,” Carlson says. “The trick is you have to make the kids feel safe and comfortable. After that, the kid will take off and it’s fun to watch the big smile on their face.”
Gillette staff members are excited to participate each year, too. For Lina Abdennabi, a member of Gillette's communications team, there's no better way to get out and support Gillette. "I love that I can spend an afternoon in good company and get to know others that want to help Gillette kids,” she says, "We always hear back from patients who have benefited from adapted bikes...I'm really excited to be a part of that."
More information about Pedal in Place is available here.